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Introduction:

Sometimes a pebble can change the course of a river. Sometimes one female sex slave can change the future of a planet. When the leader of a female-led religious cult, the Djenerion Sect, is captured by the vile Slavers of Aghara-Penthay and forced to participate in the galaxy’s cruelest sport, her participation in The Rape Run triggers events which topple rulers and alter the fate of worlds.
Queen of the Sex Slaves

By Olga Anastasia

To my muse, E.O.M., who knows why.

1-Hub

She tried to evade them for years, but in the end, they finally caught her, Tisya Achoka, and they brought her here.

It is a fact widely agreed upon throughout the galaxy, that this place, the piratical slave traders’ planet of Aghara-Penthay is one of the best places in the universe to be male, and one of the worst to be female. Although the Slavers of Aghara-Penthay do deal in some male captives, such as for labor, for breeding stock, or for those who prefer men providing their sexual services, the Slavers made their fortune, and became infamous, for buying or capturing, training, and then selling desirable women.

Over the centuries, it has become enshrined in Slaver culture that women are only a commodity, and their laws have long dictated that a woman forfeits all her freedoms as soon as she sets foot on Slaver territory. Unless she has already been registered as a private slave and is accompanied by her male owner, just because she possesses a vagina instead of a penis, in their space she immediately becomes the property of the Slavers of Aghara-Penthay. She has become theirs to abuse and dispose of as they wish.

For many centuries, the Slavers have based their business on the planet below me - the oxide-red, barren desert planet of Aghara-Penthay. Slaver society is formed of a loose federation of factions, each led by a chief. Of course, only males can achieve citizenship of Aghara-Penthay society. As I’ve mentioned already, a woman is an object, and an object can no more be a citizen than could any other object purposed to provide gratification – a piece of pornography, or a sex toy, or a bed.

Outsiders are often interested to know how the male population is maintained. Let me reassure you than is not a problem, not on a world when every woman must do exactly as she’s told. Sufficient females are chosen to serve The Slavers as breeding stock, sustaining the majority of the planet’s population, and the rest of Aghara-Penthay’s male citizens are drawn from the many willing offworld volunteers, attracted to piracy by the prospect of access to more females than they could ever screw in a lifetime, and the potential of earning enough credit to retire to a world with a pleasant climate.

Throughout most of Slaver history, captive women were broken to their slavery by a combination of physical intimidation, mind-controlling pharmaceuticals, and torture. Escape attempts were frequent, and for those unable to flee, suicide was by far the most common cause of female death.

No longer.

Within the last half-century, implantation has become the standard method of slave processing and control. Its invention advanced the Slavers’ fortunes exponentially. A chip is embedded deep into the woman’s brainstem, from where bioactive tendrils worm into the cortex, making the device impossible to remove without ripping away enough tissue to turn the implant’s victim into a vegetable. The chip emits EM radiation, configured to interfere with some of the electrical signals which relate to higher brain functions. There are too many options available as implant customization to list here, but all chips have certain common features, again enshrined in Slaver law. Firstly, the woman is compelled to follow any instruction, so long as it is spoken by a man, and secondly, she is prevented from taking her own life. For example, the man says, “stay there,” and she will say there. The man says, “fuck me,” and she will fuck him. She cannot even seek death as a means of escape, unless she is ordered to do so by her owner.

Tisya Achoka will have one of their implants in her skull by now. But not yet an implant that is fully primed, so she must obey all commands. No, there would be no sport in hunting women who simply came when you called. But the Slavers do implant all the Rape Runners, to prevent the suicides which used to occur when Runners knew capture was inevitable. Only if she is captured during the sport, will Tisya’s chip be fully primed. Complete obedience, just like that impelled on the regular slave stock, is the fate awaiting not the winner, but the Rape Run’s losers.

Once any captive woman is implanted, she will be also given the mark – a distinctive indelible swirling pattern that she’ll carry for life on her face. Tisya too will already have hers. A badge of quality identifying her as someone defeated, and processed by the Slavers. Any man who sees a woman so marked will know what it means. She is going to be obedient. She has been broken. She is shamed.

After processing, once women have their implant and mark, some of them are given further training – sexual behavior; serving food and drink; dancing; and other skills to increase their value. A few are retained and remain on the surface in the service of the Slavers. Most will be sent to The Hub, either to serve there, or be sold on to generate a profit.

Males who are not of Aghara-Penthay, i.e. not being citizen-members of one of the Slaver factions, are never permitted down to the planet’s surface. The Slavers contact offworlders and the rest of the galaxy via a vast, heavily defended space station orbiting the planet – The Hub – the place where I am now. All access on and off the red world itself goes via shuttles departing from The Hub, and boarding is strictly controlled. Only citizens and captive slaves may make the journey to the surface. No female takes that trip willingly. Once a woman is on the hot desert ground, she’s doomed. There’s no return to space until after her processing, when she’s ready for sale. Unmarked females are not permitted on the shuttles back to orbit. It’s another Slaver law.

Unlike the private planet’s surface, The Hub is welcoming to male outsiders. Offworld males may visit The Hub to buy or sell slaves, enjoy the brothels which cater for every taste and fetish, or simply visit to relax and drink. It has become one of the galaxy’s most popular tourist destinations for men. Of course, for female visitors The Hub is much less popular - visiting a place where one immediately becomes sexual property would not be most women’s first choice for a vacation, but some are curious, and still do make the journey with a carefully chosen escort. There is, for a few, a thrill to experiencing being briefly owned, and others are drawn by the excitement of danger, knowing themselves so close to such horror and such despair.

The Slavers’ wealth has enabled them to gather a pirate fleet unrivalled in the galaxy, with the home base for their vast cruisers being the docking levels at The Hub. Such force means they’ve been able to flaunt their contempt for the civilized galaxy’s laws and its women with impunity. Easily the most famous expression of Aghara-Penthay’s merciless power is The Rape Run. Each year, the faction leaders contribute their most exceptional captives until ten of the galaxy’s most desirable women are assembled for participation in a degrading competition. These women are released into a vast crater on the planet surface – The Zone. Watched through hidden cameras by a galactic audience of trillions, they’re then hunted by the faction leaders. If a woman is caught, her captor rapes her, rapes her and rapes her, and broadcasts it for the entertainment of the universe. Afterwards, their implants are fully activated, and they are sold. Only the last woman to evade capture is released, traumatized and bearing the mark for life, but unviolated and with her free will intact.

Rape Runners must possess exceptional beauty, so models, athletes and dancers are always popular, but many are chosen as much for the message their capture sends to the galaxy’s female population. Political figures who advocate women’s rights, for example, are particularly poignant. Celebrities who become lauded as female role models also need to lock their doors at night. The Slavers sometimes enjoy taking a woman who seemed too well protected to capture. If they can catch her, then the message this sends out, is that all women should fear.

Thus, the religious leader Tisya Achoka, whose qualities ticked so many of those Slaver boxes, was always going to be at particular risk. The Djenerion Sect believe their Gods only favor virgin females, not males, favored with access to paradise and the secret knowledge of the divine, so only a virgin woman may become a Djenerion priestess. Gender inequality provokes hostility whichever way it aims, and thus many are opposed to the Sect, but Djenerion priestesses do have an undeniable gift of making eerily accurate prophesies. That’s why the Sect’s narrow privilege still draws a more diverse range of followers, with men and less-chaste women included among their believers. Even if someone sacrifices their virtue for bearing offspring or worldly pleasure, that doesn’t stop them seeking the reassurance that comes from knowing the future.

Tisya, the Sect’s leader, the current Djeneria, is undeniably an outstandingly beautiful woman. There are many men who will take pleasure watching Tisya Achoka participate as Rape Runner, and there will be a particularly sadistic thrill if she fails. For only virgin woman attain the brightest Djenerion afterlife. The audience know that according to Djenerion beliefs, consent-or-not, if she is penetrated, the universe will be sharing the moment when her paradise is torn from her.

But the Djenerion Sect are no fools, and they were not ignorant the danger arising from Tisya’s value as a prize. With Tisya being merely the latest of a long line of leaders targeted for The Rape Run, and Slavers by no means the only threat to the Sect, they formed an elite armored guard of warrior women – the Okhoron, devoted to protecting her. These pretty defenders were a blessing, but also a curse. Capturing a Runner who comes with a bevy of attractive consorts became even more appealing to Aghara-Penthay.

The entire Djenerion Sect has long been considered as a particularly convenient source of female slaves, for another belief states that an unforgivable act is taking one’s own life. A slave too terrified to kill herself needs to be less carefully monitored. However, although suicide is taboo in the Sect, murder is not an unforgivable act. Thus, the Sect declared very publicly that should the holy mouthpiece of the Gods – the Djeneria Tisya Achoka, ever come under threat, the Okhoron were ordered to execute her before she fell into male hands, and then shoot each other for the same reason. Better to die a virgin, and reach paradise early, than live a sex slave. They thought that this proclamation might be enough to deter the Slavers, and all pirates would come to consider any effort to seize her as futile, given the Djeneria would be terminated as soon as her peril became too great.

The Djeneria’s defenses are weakest during her frequent ceremonial visits away from the Djenerix homeworld. The Sect and the Okhoron have always been nervous of the risk of attack offworld, but in the end that wasn’t the circumstances of her abduction. It was just after she’d left a planet, and her protectors had relaxed their guard. Still deep inside Republic space, those women must have thought they were safe.

No one knows how Salarin, one of the notorious Slaver faction leaders, managed to smuggle a stun bomb onto the Djeneria’s actual flagship, but without warning the escort vessels detected an unmistakable EM burst, and then the flagship was left drifting and unresponsive in space. Immediately the Slavers struck, hyper speed gravity drives delivering pirate vessels as though emerging from nowhere. The escorts opened fire and closed around the inert flagship, and the battle was fierce, but there were just too many Slaver ships. Once the outcome was inevitable, the escorts switched to their emergency protocols, turning their fire on the flagship, but by then it was too late.

The galaxy perceived it as an impressive victory for Salarin. Despite all the effort the Sect made to protect her, even Tisya Achoka had been kidnapped, and taken to Aghara-Penthay destined for the Rape Run. Who next, if they can catch her? One of the president’s exquisitely pretty daughters, even? The universe sat transfixed at their screens.

Footage is always broadcast across the galaxy showing each Runner’s arrival and processing. Tisya looked ashen faced during her first presentation to the universe, when under heavy guard, and to the jeers of the crowd, she walked barefoot and humbled through The Hub, her hands chained together behind her. Tisya’s captors had stripped her original clothing as they do with all captives, and she had been provided only with an Aghara-Penthay slave wrap – a rectangular piece of silken fabric fastened under the left arm, humiliatingly revealing, and barely long enough to cover the sex organs.

The wrap is designed to be demeaning, and is as recognized across the galaxy as the slave mark. Wearing it, much of Tisya’s beauty was on show for the first time. However, even this meagre covering was envied by the Okhoron captured with her. They were forced to march naked in formation around her, performing in a cruel parody of their former role. Each one was a tall and healthy beauty, each has the same unnaturally pale skin and white blonde hair. The contrast of Tisya’s brunette in the middle of her entourage was all the greater, dark amongst their platinum.

The showing of so much exquisite flesh was too much temptation for the men on The Hub that day, and the warrior women’s beauty made the fate of Tisya’s escorts’ certain. Rape Runners remain unviolated until the contest, to maximize the impact of their moments of downfall, but there’s no need for such niceties with captive Okhoron. Some Okhoron females rivalled their leader’s allure, and the parade descended into a near-riot as the Slaver guards permitted the mass rape of Tisya’s escort, the broadcast of the outrage to the galactic audience showing a gratuitous close-up of each woman’s reaction, at the very moment she was denied access to her future paradise.

The group public disgrace was almost as brutal a blow to the Sect as each rape must have been a personal one to the victim. Divine foresight failed the Djenerion that day, and for their followers, trying to maintain belief in the Gods’ blessing must have been challenging when the immortal ones did not intervene to save even one woman’s virtue. And the Sect suffered a physical cost as well as a spiritual one. Nearly all the Okhoron were captured on that ship with Tisya.

A few were lucky. The council which leads the Djenerion, The Nine, wielding an authority almost as great as Tisya, happened to have been unnecessary for that visit by sheer luck, and the Sect leadership avoided being wiped out thanks to The Nine remaining in their shrine on the Djenerix homeworld. But they faced the task of rebuilding a humiliated religion from only regular members of the Sect and old or injured Okhoron females - those who stayed at home, or were assigned to the escort vessels. Even worse for The Nine, a new Djeneria can only be chosen at the death of her predecessor, so Tisya remains Djeneria, captive or not, and if she loses in the Rape Run, the Sect face decades of humiliation with an implanted sex slave as their reigning “virgin” leader.

The Slavers knew all this, and they gloated.

Certainly then, in the eyes of the galaxy, a victory for Salarin and all the Slavers. But on Aghara-Penthay, the situation was more ambiguous. At first, the murmurs of discontent were nothing unusual. There is always tension between social groups when sentient beings are involved, and the alliances between the Slaver factions are no different. Disputes on Aghara-Penthay frequently become violent, as often men do fight when women are at stake. Only three years ago, a fifth faction leader, Leshan, was deposed shortly before that year’s Rape Run. And none of the current chiefs have been in post over a decade. Faction leaders must watch for threats from within their own faction, threats from rival leaders, and threats from the rest of the galaxy. One cannot be faint hearted and be a faction leader.

But for once, the discontent did not settle as easily as it normally does. Talk amongst the Slavers was that Salarin carelessly spent too many male lives just to capture one Runner. Valuable cruisers were lost in that battle. The severely damaged pirate cruiser from which I disembarked a few minutes ago, Virgin’s Nightmare, was for a while believed lost, and only limped home with its comms wiped out seven standard galactic days after Tisya’s capture.

It was the second time in a short period when a raid targeting one woman ended up having a high cost. The other one? The Republic finally decided to close its trimium mine on the dark, icy world of Cancis Rock, and move the inhabitants to a more pleasant and more secure location. Cancis Rock had only recently been converted from a prison into a refuge for rescued slave women. Benevolent guards protected them from themselves – from obeying orders from Aghara-Penthay to return; from exploitation by predatory males – while allowing those whose implants forced particular urges on them, masochists, for example, to safely sate their needs.

Recovering a large consignment of slaves was an appealing prospect for the Slavers, but among those women was one they sought above all. Melena de Santo, the former Republic colonel. Melena was captured for the Rape Run and violated brutally, before turning the tables and humiliating the Slavers in front of the whole galaxy, by escaping the Run along with the bounty hunter, Ja-Alixxe. The two women were condemned to be raped to death for their defiance, but so far, in spite of huge rewards, only Ja-Alixxe has been recaptured and paid the ultimate price for her escape. I saw the stream, when another slave - one from a species able to self-detonate, made Ja-Alixxe into a martyr, causing significant damage to The Hub in the process.

When Salarin received the intelligence of the slave women being secretly moved between sanctuaries, via some Republic agent who was in his pay, the Slavers moved to attacked with full half of their fleet.

Unfortunately, it was a trap. The Republic were waiting with even greater numbers, and inflicted such a defeat that it will take the Slavers years to recover. Anyone can receive fake intelligence, but it happened to be Salarin who was blamed. To make the ill-feeling worse, Salarin’s ships happened to suffer much lighter losses than the other faction leaders. He brought about a defeat, and gained ground over the other leaders at the same time.

It has not been a good year for Aghara-Penthay, or for the crew of Virgin’s Nightmare.

Today, there is only one unusual thing about the appearance of our group as we pass through the airlock and begin walking through The Hub. Passers-by see what they’re meant to see - males in typical Slaver dress - loose flowing shirts and desert color pants, with heavy work boots suitable for traversing the rocky surface down on Aghara-Penthay’s surface. That is normal. Those who we pass might casually note how each one of us has on the upper arm of our uniform the faction emblem of a Slaver clan. Salarin’s faction, in our case. Also normal. The one unusual element for Aghara-Penthay is our lack of Slaver, swagger. In a line we stumble on, seeming on the verge of exhaustion, each looking barely able to carry their heavy blaster weapon, and their regulation kit bag.

After returning from a deep space cruise, it is perhaps also slightly unusual that not one of us makes for one of the brothels to sate our desire. If one of us forgets to control their expression, someone in my team might even be spotted seeming to look with distaste at the slave women, naked or in wraps, buzzing around everywhere. But sexual lethargy too is not entirely unheard of, so if we are noticed, we draw no questions. There are enough slaves in captivity on the surface to satisfy everyone, and people will assume even the most libidinous appetite occasionally grows tired of constant, freely available, sex.

The date and time of our docking is only hours from the commencement of this year’s Rape Run, and the vast screens everywhere on The Hub are busily broadcasting saturation coverage. On one screen, I see the Runners waiting in fear in their holding pen, down below us on the planet. I glimpse Tisya herself huddled against the bare wall, knees drawn up as though she’s trying to be invisible.

I frown, my heavy brows dark.

Another monitor that I pass is replaying highlights of the launch show, where the Runners were subjected to a humiliating interview by the host, Wagner. Other screens cover each Runner’s backstory, provide her odds of success, and analyze her likely strategy. Ahead of me, I see Orteza pause when Tisya’s face again comes on a view screen - Orteza perhaps contemplating the collateral damage wrought on our lives, just because one woman was desired by Aghara-Penthay.

The lower level of The Hub where we disembarked is dedicated to the docking ring for Slaver pirate cruisers, and also to docking the tourist ships that bring groups of men and sometimes women on sex holidays. An upper level contains administration and facilities to manage The Hub’s defense. The main level of The Hub, the one that we’re half-way across now, is the mezzanine, a long strip containing the brothels, auction houses, hotels, stores, restaurants and bars that sate every desire of the visitors. One place in particular claims my attention. I’ve been trying not to notice it, and yet, as is the way with destiny, inevitably we pass it. The Palace of Roses. Owned by Salarin’s faction, one of the brothels configured to please men with a taste for torturing women. It’s as though a hand squeezes my heart. Here is where she finished up.

But I might crack if I look any longer. I focus ahead on our destination.

At one end of the mezzanine, beyond the tightest security controls on The Hub, is an area accessible only to Slavers and slaves. From here, small shuttles configured for short flights transport everything to and from the planet’s surface.

We become more watchful as we pass through the security checks, our fingers discreetly close to triggers in case there’s trouble, but we make it through the scans without incident. Those forged IDs were worth what we paid, then.

Waiting beyond the checkpoint we see a small group of naked women, joined by chains at their necks, destined for the next shuttle down to the surface. I count four of them. The faces of three are not yet marked – they must be fresh captives. Down there on the hot dry red surface of the planet, the new ones will inevitably be implanted, marked, and begin spending the rest of their lives serving the whims of their owners. The three fresh women are of indifferent quality – the one with the best breasts having a face that is too square; the prettiest features being on the girl who is short, and so on. But high quality or low, they are female, and therefore slave. They will inevitably be processed and sold.

Two of these women have learned a little of how to conduct themselves during their short time in captivity, and all stare down, not daring to make eye contact with anyone in Slaver uniform. But one still weeps quietly, probably contemplating that these are her last hours with free will. It is a mistake, for if her sniveling irritates the guards, she will be punished. A smarter companion elbows her in the ribs irritably.

A fourth female, the one whom I judge most desirable, stands slightly apart from the other group. Four is positioned in between the two Slaver guards, probably under their orders, so they might touch her if they wish. She has not been chained at the neck to the others, for she does not need restraint. Number four already has the swirling slave mark on her face. She will already have an implant in her brain stem, dissolving her will to resist male commands.

Just two men have been tasked as escorts for this sorry quartet, and they are only lightly armed. There is little need for weaponry when the women in their charge are defenseless, and have nowhere left to run. For a woman, making an escape from The Hub is nearly as unlikely as fleeing the surface, so females need minimal policing. The men are merely there to ensure that the fresh captures do not end themselves before getting to implantation.

“What’s her story?” I ask the escorts gruffly, indicating the marked one. It is unusual for marked females to be returned to the surface. Processed women are taken to The Hub to serve there, or most commonly are sold from there onwards, and it’s only the fresh captures need to travel to the ground.

“There’s a shortage in the breeding program,” shrugs the guard. “She’s to be inseminated.”

“There’s always a shortage in the breeding program,” I grumble, rubbing the unnatural-feeling growth of stubble on my chin. “They would rather sell females than maintain the population we need. The chiefs think only of credits.”

While I speak, I appraise the woman She’s a sensible choice. The girl is tall and strong. If her babies are male, they will become healthy and virile Slavers. Female offspring might also have value.

“Ajeedie”, one of my team interrupts from behind me, and a hand on my sleeve pulls me to the side. The voice speaking is low, masculine, but urgent, seeking a private conversation not meant for the ears of those guards. I turn. Of course, it is Norenda. The sharpest thorn in my side. When there’s dissent, it’s always Norenda, or Orteza.

“We can’t take the shuttle with these four, Ajeedie,” Norenda says. “There was nothing in the agreement about involving innocents.”

“If you want me on side, you will address me as Commander Ajeedie, Norenda,” I snap.

How many times do we have to repeat this? The rest of the team were bonded before I joined, and they didn’t like a stranger parachuted into the helm. Since the beginning, they’ve deliberately disrespected me, with petty acts like not using my title. Some commanders would make more effort to get troops on side, but I’m not one to be distracted from my goal, or give in to Norenda’s pestering just to curry favor. I dismissively answer: “We cannot risk a delay. It will attract too much attention and besides – the Run is about to begin.”

“Don’t be so pompous, or ridiculous,” Norenda retaliates. “Of course, we can wait a short time. How will that attract attention? We’re just off a long cruise, and it will be days before the Run is over. And what’s more natural than us taking time to hang around, have a few beers and look at the girls?”

“All of us will need to purge soon,” I hiss in a low voice. Purging overrides all. The Hub is kept to a comfortable temperature, unlike the boiling surface which awaits us below, but all the same I’m feeling faint, and underneath the layers I’m slick with sweat. The others will be in a similar state. “Don’t forget the local repair and processing crews will be on the ship soon. We must be down to the planet before anyone checks the manifests on Virgin’s Nightmare.”

“There are places we can purge on The Hub,” Norenda counters. “Every brothel has private rooms. But if we take this shuttle, then the women become our responsibility.”

Frustration is making Norenda’s voice creep louder and louder. I make a warning gesture.

I make a quick assessment of the guards and their naked charges, considering the lives we hold in our hands. There’s nothing there to change my mind. There are always victims, where slavery exists. The women’s future is miserable with us or without us.

“We are fighters, not slave handlers. I am not nursemaiding a gaggle of captives across the surface,” I insist. “What are we going to feed them? Besides, what if they find out our objective, and they turn against us? You know the risk of failure. They may prefer to side with our opposition.”

“We are fighters, Ajeedie, not murderers,” says Norenda. “If we take this shuttle, we spare them, and we offer them the choice if the situation changes.”

“Norenda, I know your taste. it is not a time to let a slave take your fancy. We work alone, and that’s an order.” I insist.

But Norenda makes a point of hefting that heavy blaster. And that overtly aggressive gesture finally is enough to draw the attention of one of the two escorts. Although for now, the escort still only goes as far as nudging his companion, suppressing a grin. Relations in the factions are fractious at best, and fights are not uncommon. So long as it doesn’t spill out into full disorder, violence would probably break the monotony of their day.

“And you might not be murderers, but I am,” I say menacingly.

But Norenda is not going to give in. “If what awaits us awaits us,” my subordinate declares too loudly, “then fuck your orders anyway Ajeedie.”

I must restore authority, but still put a lid on this situation.

“You!” I demand to Orteza, “Take that soldier’s weapon,” and to Norenda, “As for you - you’re on a charge for insubordination.”

I chose Orteza to exercise my will, intending to divide the pair and then conquer, but it doesn’t work.

“I’m with Norenda, and I think you’ll find we’ll be the ones making the call,” says Orteza. “Nobody wanted to follow you, Ajeedie. Everyone knows you’d never have been put in command if you weren’t the only option left. So don’t misunderstand us. We’ll let you play chief just enough to get you where you need to be on the surface, but don’t push us.”

“Too right.” Norenda smirks. “And Orteza makes a good point - why did you become the only option? When there’s some quiet time, and this is over, let’s talk about where you were when the battle was going on, Ajeedie.”

“Keep that up and when there’s some quiet time, I’ll spend it killing you both,” I say, “and I’ll enjoy it.” I flex my arms, and muscle ripples. I do not make idle threats. I could kill Norenda, if I wanted. I could kill Orteza. Diaz. Ak-Mancheen. Illyri. Ko. All of them. I have the skill, the reflexes. They could even be armed, and I could have nothing, and I’d still be the victor.

But I force myself to count to ten, swallowing my angry humiliation. Now I’m the one drawing attention. I delivered my death threat loud enough that the two guards overheard, but on Aghara-Penthay, that’s still not been menacing enough for them to lose their smile.

Unbeknown to them, I can read their body language easily, and I’m confident they will not intervene, so long as things don’t escalate. The smaller man is even relaxed enough that he begins groping the breasts of the breeder girl. She flinches at the first contact – even implanted women can’t always override defensive animal instincts, but then she remembers herself, and opens her body to him. He slaps her face anyway – to shock rather than to hurt her. A warning. I shrug, trying not to show any sympathy.

“Kill me if you must,” Norenda tells me. “But while I’m alive, we either take this shuttle and deal with the consequences, or we wait.”

“This is not over,” I warn them. What happens when we’re in private on the shuttle is a different matter to what happens in the public areas of The Hub, but for now it’s best I give in. To the obvious disappointment of the watching guards, I grunt, gesturing to the shuttle, and we board. I’m patient, and my hour will come. Those who are not in my team follow – slaves, escorts, and all, for better or for worse.

Orteza has paused, and is watching me closely.

“What made you so cold, Ajeedie? It takes more than one shipwreck to make someone that bitter.”

I’d prefer to let them think I’m a dick than tell them the truth. Our chances of success are thin enough, and there will be no satisfaction at the end of it. If they knew they’d be running already, not inviting the extra problem of a babysitting task.

“You don’t know what I’ve had to see, you don’t know what I’ve had to do,” I answer gruffly, then I steal a glance at the escorts. “And I’m about to add more crimes to my record.”

That is how things are left, as we board.

Adding crimes is just how it goes, too. Minutes later, I have made several more kills. Yeah, Orteza and Norenda might bluster, but they still leave the dirty work of doing that to me. Well, murdering takes my mind away from dealing with human resources issues.

The universe moves on. Somewhere out there in space, senior officers at Hub Control and Surface Control, will soon report to their superiors that our shuttle veered off course and crashed to ground somewhere in The Zone, with all on board lost. The destruction will be so complete I do not expect much effort will be made to aid us. In fact, I’m counting on it. Aghara-Penthay is a cruel world, and death and suffering here are quickly forgotten. My argument with my team proves how hard it is for real kinship to develop among those who must come here. I wonder briefly if anyone at all will mourn the occupants of shuttle AP-3142-Z, but seeing as one of those alleged victims is myself, I don’t have the luxury of time to ponder it for long.

2-Surface

Wreckage is spread over more than a square mile of the surface of Aghara-Penthay. Norenda did a good job, I must admit. The largest piece is no bigger than a human head, and all the debris has been incinerated to blackness by the fierce heat from the impact. When the rescue and salvage parties arrive, they will struggle even to identify how many were killed. Forget identifying individuals from this shattered mess. Good. But the rising smoke signposts the location of the crash, and the alarm will be raised by now. Not so good.

“We need to move,” I say, unnecessarily. All of us understand the dangers. “We can’t last long out in this heat, and they will soon be sending ships to check for survivors.”

I look to Orteza. As our group’s tech, Orteza has switched that showpiece blaster from The Hub for a screen, suspended from a shoulder strap for easy transport.

“Any lifesigns yet?”

Orteza studies the motion tracker, instinctively wiping a hand across that balding crown, as though this actually helps remove sweat. Gods, it’s hot here.

I wait anxiously. If the tracking device wasn’t damaged in the crash, it should show anything moving in The Zone, beginning from the size of an adult human. If it’s broken, we’re screwed.

“Good traces, Ajeedie. A high density of signals coming from The Zone center. That will be the Hunter groups. Scattered medium sized lifeforms elsewhere across The Zone. Runners, or native animals. Too many to tell. No sign of incoming ships yet.”

I nod.

“In that case we have a few minutes. Kit check, everyone.”

My group are at least sensible enough to follow that order, and everyone rummages through their Slaver kit bags, checking the functionality of equipment. I survey them, as they do their work. Seven of us. The plan was to keep an even number in case the worst happened, but my addition to the party messed that up. Another reason they resent me – I’m unlucky seven, the feared team total in many enlightened galactic superstitions. But here we are. Ajeedie – ranking officer and combat specialist. Norenda - pilot. Orteza - tech. Diaz - muscle. Ak-Mancheen - muscle. Illyri – pyrotechnics. Ko - medic. Those two Slaver escort guards, and the shuttle’s original crew, were cremated by the fiery wreck of the shuttle. Only the unlucky seven remain, the jinxed powers of our number already demonstrated by an obligation to our unwanted and dangerous new additions.

The group of women shuffle nervously, their bare feet sore now they’re on the stony ground of The Zone. They don’t understand what’s happening. They don’t understand why, as soon as the shuttle left The Hub and started to descend, the leader of a motley group of men butchered their escorts and the flight crew with terrifying efficiency, but chose to spare the slaves. They don’t understand why Norenda gently landed us on the surface, but then used a remote to take off and plough the shuttle into the rocky ground, at an impossible angle. They don’t understand why Slaver troops are acting so warily on the surface of their own world.

They wouldn’t guess the true reasons unless I showed them, but I can see their mental cogs whirring as they try to make assumptions anyway. The conclusion they’ll probably reach is that we spared them for the usual reasons that men keep women. I will not offer them any reassurance on this. They are slaves, and cannot be trusted, and it’s better for now that they look on us the way slave women usually look on male captors.

Having confirmed the readiness and functionality of my own kit, I look around. The floor of the vast crater which forms The Zone was pancake-flat in an era before recorded history, but over millions of years, nature has created sufficient variation on the surface to provide ample cover. Around me sharp outlines shimmer with the heat haze. A nearby outcrop of rock is dwarfed by the slopes of the more distant crater edge marking The Zone boundary, but the outcrop will be sufficient to our needs. It is honeycombed with entrances, and in those entrances there will be the precious shade.

“We hole up over there until nightfall.” I say, the deepness of my voice adding authority. “Let’s go. All of you - team: keep on the hard ground as much as possible, so you leave no footprints. Slaves – follow us.”

Without waiting for an answer, I begin to march, making the pace on point. My boots are practical for the stony terrain, even though the thick soles tend to crunch noisily on the gravel ground. The team fall into place behind me. At least seeing me doing that killing means their attitude has improved. The members of my squad watch me nervously now they know what I’m capable of.

Only the female with the slave mark is implanted and compelled to follow us, but the rest of the women trail docilely behind anyway. I suppose they have nothing else to do. Make a break for the sands, and they will find either more groups of men, or a cruel death alone in the desert. They do not complain. It must be painful for them stepping on sharp stones in bare feet, but that’s not my problem. It was Norenda’s stupid decision to keep them alive, so Norenda can choose how to deal with anyone who goes lame. Besides, in one specific way, those slaves are luckier than we are. Although there were no wraps on the shuttle for them to wear, at least while they’re naked, they’re not cooking alive under this sun.

During our short walk, the Rape Run year 4453 commences. Across the galaxy, the public will be busy choosing between live feeds of any Runner, or any of the four Hunters. Trillions of beings checking their favorites, and enjoying their victories or defeats. There will be sentient beings watching from almost every corner of the universe, with one exception. Here in The Zone, the broadcasts are blacked out with an EM shield, so neither Slaver nor Runner can gain an advantage of knowing the other’s tactics. All we are shown is the official broadcast with the face of Wagner, projected to vastness on a screen in the sky. Launching the competition, he reminds the Runners of the rules for women – they must call for the foul sperm-laden hydrating fluid every two hours, or visit one of the very few drinking pools and risk being trapped there. They may call for a flare if in distress, and a Hunter will be given their location. Finally, they must not cross the rim of the crater out of The Zone. Hunters have regulations too, but the only one Wagner mentions is they may not hunt between sunset and sunrise.

“Hydrate,” I order the team, and they obey. Our water bottles do not contain the sperm of a Rape Runner’s sponsors, but they are nearly as unpleasant, having been heated by the sun to a temperature as warm as a bath.

“Water the slaves as well,” I order.

Wagner vanishes from the sky. So, it’s begun. This very second, Hunter’s groups have started fanning out from the center of The Zone, in search of Runners. Runners will be making for somewhere they can evade detection, much as we’re doing. Each one of those women will be perpetually terrorized during her participation in the event – frightened to move, frightened to stay still, most frightened by imagining what will happen to her if she gets caught.

We have hydrated ourselves, but in the open furnace where we’ve landed, no amount of water is going to be enough. Ak-Mancheen, muscle, the biggest of us, stumbles, then goes face first down into the dirt. Ko, medic, rushes in to check vital signs. Ko’s diagnosis - nothing more serious than fainting from the heat, but where Ak-Mancheen has gone, soon there will be more. Our group can only resume with Ak-Mancheen leaning on Ko’s shoulder. Even I can’t help but smile wryly at them. Two motley scruffs together, one giant, one slight. A comically mis-sized pair if I ever saw one.

We’re in a sorry state by the time we reach the rocks. It is lucky that the outcrop is so ideal, because we don’t have reserves for a plan-B. There are hundreds of caves in this one feature. We quickly find a place that has a small, easily guarded entrance, and expands into a larger space within. Diaz and Ak-Mancheen sweep it for lifeforms and pronounce it safe.

“In,” I say.

The air inside the cave is almost as hot as outside, but it feels mercifully cooler anyway, just because the sun isn’t baking us alive. All the same, I’m still near fainting with heat, and I don’t need Ko’s anguished reminder “Ajeedie?” to know what must be done.

“Diaz, Ak-Mancheen, Illyri,” I say, “You three first. Find a cave and purge. Make sure you’re not followed.”

They are the logical choice. Diaz and Ak-Mancheen are carrying the heaviest loads, and as demonstrated, that makes them the most vulnerable to succumbing to the heat. Illyri is frailer than the others. The three of them don’t need asking twice, and have left us almost before I’ve finished my sentence.

“Orteza,” I continue, “Take Norenda to purge, once Diaz and Ak-Mancheen return. I’ll go last, with Ko.”

Orteza and Norenda have the closest friendship within the team, and I consider it a peace offering to permit them purging at the same time. Of course, they even have to disagree with that.

“Send Ko with Norenda,” Orteza counters, although with a more respectful tone than I’ve heard before. “Ko is delicate, and needs it more quickly. I can wait. And someone needs to keep an eye on you. We don’t want you massacring the women, the first moment we’re away.”

Fine, whatever. Perhaps when we’re alone and purging, I can kill Orteza. I shrug.

“As you wish,” I say. “Ko and Norenda – you’re next, then.”

With that agreed, we return to our mission objectives.

“Lifesigns?” I ask Orteza, who is once again concentrating on the motion tracker.

“Ships now at the wreck site. Slaver groups with the faction leaders identified. Dispersed across The Zone. Multiple individual signals. Too many to confirm any as Runners.”

“Monitor the Hunter closest to us,” I say. “We’ll begin after dark.”

“Ajeedie.” Orteza acknowledges with a nod.

I sit down, with my back against the wall of the cave, and close my eyes. Any movement only generates heat, and makes me more likely to collapse before the purge.

“Master?”

It is the girl with her face marked who interrupts me. She kneels in the dirt, naked, only inches away from me.

“Do you require any service? Master looks unwell.”

She looks at us and sees men, rapists, but her face is a picture of confused concern anyway. The implant in her skull, its biotech roots embedded deep into her brain, is fulfilling its program, and compelling her to prevent harm coming to men. She doesn’t understand what we’re doing here, and why we’ve been all-but ignoring our women, but she must still try to please anyway. When a slave is as pretty as her, many men would have forced themselves on her by now. Oh, for a normal life, like one of those men. On a whim, I reach out and touch her cheek, on the side where she’s marked as a slave. It is an intense experience, having such complete power over another being. I trace down her vulnerable throat to the swelling of her full breast, until I reach the nipple. I can see why she was chosen as breeding stock. She will produce healthy and attractive offspring.

The girl makes no attempt to evade my touch. In fact, she arches her back to present her chest more completely. She is one of those long-since broken. She has learnt there is no escape for her, and complete surrender is the best way to reduce her suffering.

“Where are you from?” I ask, withdrawing my hand, and clarify, “before becoming a slave?”

“Cuspix, Master,” she answers, a little uncertainly as though it was too long ago to remember. “In the Danaean Cluster.”

“I do not know it,” I say dismissively. “What were you before you were taken?”

“A medical officer, Master. In a merchant fleet.”

“Ah. Is that how you met the Slavers of Aghara-Penthay?”

“Yes, Master. I was officer on a passenger vessel. Our route was deep in Republic space where attack was unlikely, but a pirate found us anyway.”

She waits silently. Men don’t often wish to hear women talk for long, and an experienced slave does not elaborate unless ordered. But like many, I can’t help having a macabre fascination with those who have endured the horror. The other members of my squad still present have stopped to listen too.

“Tell me what it was like. Give me details.”

“The attack was terrifying. Brutal murder, and those who died were the lucky ones. The Slavers spared only the lives of the desirable women.”

“It is often that way.”

“I thought they’d preserve us intact for a while – virgin women have higher auction value – but the rapes began as soon as we were on the Slaver ship. Many of the suitable females ended themselves before they could be taken. But I preferred to live, even as a slave. I did not have the strength to terminate myself.”

“Sometimes it takes more courage to survive than to die.”

“I no longer remember,” admits the girl. “Now there is only existing to serve.”

I study her again. Suicide used to be a major issue amongst slave traders, but implantation ended that. A slave’s coding prevents them ending their own life. Not even that escape is possible for the victims of this world.

“I was one of those violated before we docked at The Hub,” she continues. “With the other women, I had to walk naked to the shuttle bay. I’m sure Master has seen these parades many times, but mine, I will never forget.”

“Mmm,” I say noncommittally.

“That was the last time I saw my best friend from the crew. I know not if she lives. I suppose it doesn’t matter. The rest of my story is a typical one, Master. I was processed. Given a little training. I was auctioned, and procured by a brothel on The Hub. I have served there, pleasing men, until the summons to function as a breeder.”

Her sexual slavery has gone on for long enough that she kneels instinctively with her thighs wide. Women are trained to do this - it pleases men to look at the genitals of females, and slave women, being no more than objects are permitted no modesty, but they say it takes a while to become second nature. I can see all the contours of her vulva, and the hood of her clitoris. She is hairless down there. Another common choice of the masters of female slaves. I look back up and see the girl is watching me.

I rest my head back against the rock wall of the cave, and close my eyes. Gods, it’s so hot.

“Master looks unwell,” repeats the girl.

She knows I was looking at her pussy, but there is not the least sign of rebuke, even in her expression. It irritates me for some reason that she is so accepting, so passive. Is there not one of these creatures with the will to resist – a figurehead for the millions of victims?

“What is your name?” I ask, a little snappily.

“Karmeena, Master,” she answers promptly.

“Well I’m fine, Karmeena,” I say dismissively, and she flinches. “Don’t ask me if I’m unwell again. Actually, I need to think. Leave me for now, and go see if the others need assistance.”

“Yes, Master,” she replies, and her compulsion to obey means she’s rising to her feet even before she begins speaking.

It’s not her fault, but the abject obedience that’s meant to please us makes her a risk. Karmeena shouldn’t be here, her or the other women. I’m not naturally heartless, but it would have been better to leave them in the shuttle, so they died in the crash. Norenda and Orteza’s mutiny to save them was understandably human, but foolish. After dark, we will begin our great work, and we will shatter the uneasy peace between the Slaver factions completely. I don’t wish to lose a precious fighter just to leave someone babysitting the women, but neither does a sensible force do its fighting with a gaggle of unarmed naked women alongside. The implanted female is particularly unpredictable. The coding of an implant defines a complicated hierarchy of authority, necessary to avoid the slave experiencing a mental breakdown in the event of receiving conflicting male commands. For now, she identifies me, the leader in faction uniform with a deep voice, as the one to please. But her compulsion to her hardware might mean that once battle is underway, or if she finds out the truth of our history, she will try to join our enemies instead of siding with us.

Perhaps even more dangerously, slave implants can be tracked. Other Slavers have hopefully assumed she was killed in the shuttle crash, but if they bother to check, they’ll discover she’s alive, and then her signal will lead them to us. That girl is a walking time bomb. There should be no more than four Slaver teams in The Zone – the Hunters – and a few admin staff. Four teams, not five.

Still, she is pretty, and who doesn’t instinctively wish to preserve beauty? I’m as guilty as the rest of them. Who doesn’t want to see a creature like her, vivacious and strong? I watch the muscles of her rump flex as she moves through the cave, admiring the way she has such a natural grace to her walk. Doesn’t she deserve the chance of life?

I spare a glance at the other women, the inferior fresh captures huddling together nervously. They are not implanted, but no doubt they expect we’re planning to amend that at the first opportunity. They are a danger in a different way, traumatized to the verge of panic by the early phases of captivity – no use to me. It is not surprising that one of them shrieks with fright when the almost deafening cry of a woman suddenly resonates through the cave, followed by the sound of Wagner’s mocking voice.

“Siilka Noneeva,” he tuts. “What’s going on here? Caught like this, when you won medal after medal for your performance in the water?”

As though magnetized, we move as one to the entrance to the cave to see where one of the vast screens has appeared in the sky. Even the slaves forget their place for a moment to come and watch.

I can only see the head and shoulders of the woman on the screen, but that’s enough to confirm that this Siilka a beauty. Her eyes are large and expressive, and her face is delicate – perfectly symmetrical, with high, fine, cheekbones. Her hair is jet black. Her skin is an unusual non-human blue-grey shade, with a pattern of mottling which suggests scales.

The scene being broadcast by the Slavers does not make sense at first. Siilka is flailing with her arms, and seems to be swimming through the solid sandy ground of Aghara-Penthay, as though the surface somehow liquified. But only temporarily so. The liquid sand she’s fallen into seems to thicken with every moment – an oil, then a syrup, then a gel. Wagner soon explains.

“Thy called you the galaxy’s most beautiful sportswoman, Siilka, they called you the supreme female athlete, but it turned out you weren’t fit enough to escape a Slaver trap.”

In the time it takes Wagner to say that, the liquid finishes setting completely. Siilka still squirms, but for the all the benefit she gets, she might as well have been set in concrete. She made the mistake of having her forearms below the surface as the trap fully solidified, and she looks like an amputee as she violently flails her upper body.

“Your life as a sportswoman is over. Your life as a sex slave has begun. But there is good news. It turns out you haven’t lost that affinity for fluids,” says Wagner, “especially cum.”

These witty words explain the next sequence – a montage of Siilka, naked on her back, strapped down to some form of bed, being repeatedly raped. The first man to take her is the faction leader, Lotho-Etsarra. He is considered the most handsome of the chiefs, but during a rape, his face is distorted by lust into a cruel rictus. A succession of other rapists follows – presumably his men. I do not recognize any of their faces. Sometimes Siilka pleads “no” to these attackers, but it makes no difference. The ending is always the same. Ejaculation, inside her, or sometimes over her face. Once she’s been ruined and soiled by the relentless degradations, and her face is dripping with slime, the last attacker urinates on her, in an ultimate expression of contempt.

I do not reveal any emotion witnessing the scene on the screen. I still have role to play. The unmarked women are looking at us as though in judgement, and we in Slaver uniforms would look strange if they showed sympathy. Over the course of a standard galactic year, hundreds of thousands, no, it must be millions, of rapes take place. Only the Rape Runners have the galaxy witness the first moment of defeat, but otherwise they are not special.

“Get back in under cover,” I order brusquely. “We don’t want to be seen.”

The girl Karmeena obeys immediately. The others linger a moment longer as Wagner’s broadcast finishes, but when I growl, they too move back into the shade. Useless creatures… This mercy towards them better not backfire on us. Karmeena is pretty, but we have work to do, and do not need an attractive implanted female for now. Godsdamn Norenda and Orteza. This is their fault. I just hope I’ll live long enough to make them pay for getting us in this situation, if their kindness comes back and bites us in the ass.

3 – Purge

It’s almost become torture for me by the time my turn comes, but I’m determined to prove I’m better at holding out than the others. So when Ko and Norenda return I make a point of delaying even longer, checking my equipment again. I’m hoping that Orteza comes to plea, but turns out I’m not the only one who can play tough. Orteza squats down and talks quietly to Karmeena, pretending not to have noticed it’s our time. Finally, I’m willing to call it a draw.

“I’m going to purge.” I announce to the group. “Orteza – get ready. You too. Norenda, you’re in charge here. Keep watch. Don’t let the slaves follow me. If a Runner gets close, let her see one of us, and she should steer clear. But sound the alarm if you see Hunters approaching.”

“Ajeedie,” Norenda acknowledges.

Back outside the sun hits me full force, and in spite of the need to show my strength, I reel with dizziness. A hand grasps my upper arm, supporting me. Orteza, thank you, for once. Perhaps you may live after all.

A derelict building is a few hundred yards away, which would offer more seclusion, but our need has become too urgent. A cave entrance is much closer, the red sandstone overhang creating a little shade.

We stumble only far enough inside to be sure we can’t be seen from across the gap, where the others are waiting. We’ve all seen bodies many times, and yet my team prefer to purge alone, as though there’s something shameful about the process.

First, I strip. Weapon, heavy combat boots, socks, jacket with Slaver insignia, desert combat pants, T shirt, are all discarded onto an untidy heap. We wear no underwear – another way to appear as though we’re like other Slavers. Naked, I stretch, flexing my large shoulders. The penis and testicles between my legs hang heavy, distracting me. So much trouble in the galaxy, all because males have these ugly things.

Almost like I’ve never seen mine before, I cup the genitals in the palm of my hand, feeling their warmth and weight.

Letting the junk drop, I look across to Orteza, who is now also nude, and showing a body shorter and wider than me. I’ve not seen that many men nude during my life, but I’ve come across enough to form some sense of what is average. Orteza’s diminutive height seems overcompensated with a ridiculously long penis that dangles halfway down the thighs.

The hair on my skull is dark and short – scruffy, but regulation. I reach up with both hands to this hair, specifically to where the growth stops at the nape of my neck. The flesh feels warm under my fingertips. Pressing firmly down on it, I begin to pull, stretching the surface gently, but steadily. The skin is configured to commence the purge only from there, and so it does, spreading from the base of my skull vertically up and down the spine as though I’ve unzipped a line along my flesh.

Underneath I am sweating profusely, even though my real skin is also naked. Once I’ve pulled the biosuit away over my crown, my true, long, unnaturally blonde hair reveals itself as so wet it looks as though I’ve been in a shower. I continue to pull the biosuit away, peeling it off my arms and down my torso, as though I’m doing nothing more than removing a wetsuit. Gradually the whole skin comes away, with the very last part of me exposed being my feet. Feeling the sharp stones of Aghara-Penthay for the first time on my body’s real soles, I straighten up.

I am tall for a female. Constant training has made my body comparatively muscular for my sex, but I’m nothing compared to male athletes, and wish as I might to appear masculine, my genes rule out any possibility of using physical fitness to obscure my gender without the biosuit. The breasts which curse me are full, unusually full for my frame. They earned me much teasing in my girlhood. Concealment of a rack like mine is usually impossible, even in loose clothing, when they sit so high and protrude forward as proudly as if they’re filled with helium. Compounding my woes, I have unusually prominent nipples that have proved difficult to disguise even with the thickest padding.

Down below, my sex is rounded, and the lips of my vulva are fleshy and prominent, however that does at least mean the curves can conceal the protruding folds of my clitoris.

So there I stand. I know that some men prefer the smaller, fragile woman like living dolls, but for those who favor healthy gene stock, I know to my cost that my appearance is of the kind considered exceptionally attractive. “Rape Run grade”, an asshole guy once labelled me, thinking I’d take it as a compliment.

I am Ajeedie, a “Rape Run grade” naked female standing on the surface of Aghara-Penthay. My sex – my breasts and that opening between my legs, mean I can only ever have the status of slave on this world, and to evade servitude I’m completely reliant on the bodysuit. Such dependence doesn’t stop me looking down with disapproval at the bundle of folded skin lying in the dirt. While the suits look entirely authentic and can also fool any of the Slavers’ gender scanners, and the voice modulator lowers my tone to a male register, they’re not perfect. They’re not porous enough for a hot climate, so we sweat unbearably inside them, and to avoid collapse from heat exhaustion, several times each day we must “purge”, giving our real skins the opportunity to breathe. Furthermore, although it is possible to urinate through the fake penis, passing solids is both difficult and unhygienic.

Orteza carefully holds her own bodysuit. Like most other women, she is shorter than me, and her breasts are less pneumatic, but her face would, I believe, be of the kind men considered attractive. At any rate, since my arrival on The Hub I’ve seen poorer specimens of womanhood that the Slavers were willing to take as their property. Her mixed heritage makes her unusual, with a slight upward slant to her dark eyes, a greenish skin tinge and her near-jet-black hair betraying the nonhuman strand woven through her DNA. Her true female form is softer than mine, and except for her chest, she is more rounded. Orteza has not endured the constant exercise regimes of Tisya’s elite guard, the Okhoron, so she lacks my muscle definition. Her eyes are very dark, and large – one of her better features, and her mouth is wide, giving her face a naturally sensual look.

We eye each other warily. The Djenerion Sect is an order of women, but we are a demure order, turning away from our mortal bodies to seek the enlightenment, and it is rare we are nude in the presence of another person. So even if I hadn’t discovered her sexual preference was for females, I would probably have felt uncomfortable baring myself before Orteza. But on this planet of Aghara-Penthay, women are defined only by our beauty, and by our value as sexual objects. It is impossible to forget our desirability while standing nude under the appraisal of another.

Like me, Orteza is dripping with sweat. She moves a hand automatically to her gleaming shoulder. “Don’t wipe the sweat away,” I tell her. “It will evaporate in the dry air, and so cool you more quickly.”

We have been at each other’s throats more or less since we boarded the captured Virgin’s Nightmare disguised our body suits. But naked, Orteza feels the same vulnerability I’m experiencing, and as women we’re instinctively drawn together against this land of horrors.

“I need to pee,” Orteza admits.

“I won’t look,” I reply. “I want to do my form.” I turn politely towards the cave opening, while she squats down on her haunches behind me in the shadows.

I adopt defensive posture four – body turned to the side, one leg ahead, knee bent as though making a fencing thrust, one leg stretched behind. Closing my eyes, I repeat the familiar cycle of blocks and attacks: Attackers zones one and seven, block and retaliate zone seven. Attackers zone three and nine. Block and eliminate zone nine.

The sound of Orteza’s urine stream is noisy. Perhaps that’s why she chooses to speak.

“Ajeedie - do you think we can reach her? Tisya?” Orteza asks. Her voice is high and scratchy. The body suits contain tech to modulate the vocal pitch, and it’s the first time I’ve heard how she really sounds.

Orteza was at the same mission briefing I attended, so she knows the answer almost as well as I do. But she’s seeking comfort and reassurance, rather than information.

Attackers zones two and six. Block six, block two.

“If we all survive tonight’s encounter, I think our chances are good. At least, our chances of reaching the Djeneria are good. As for what happens afterwards, and whether we leave the planet, that needs much more luck. And all this is assuming we find her before the Hunters. The Slavers will hopefully blame one faction leader being assassinated on his rivals. But if they’ve already degraded Tisya and she must be eliminated too – well, then our chances of escape are low. Slavers don’t destroy valuable merchandize. Our actions will give away that something else is occurring, and then they will hunt us down.”

“I wish we had a priestess with us,” Orteza complains. Not the first time I’ve heard this from my team. “I’d feel safer knowing there was someone with the foresight.”

“You know that’s not how the gift works,” I grumble. I stop the form exercises to massage my abdomen. My time of bleeding was not long before the mission began, and I still feel heavy with the aftermath of the cramps. My breasts feel heavy and ache, but I don’t want to rub them in front of Orteza.

“All the same, I’m nervous that no priestess would come with us,” she says. The strike team is drawn from lay members of The Sect, and myself - one of the few Okhoron bodyguards who wasn’t caught with our leader. “It suggests they don’t think we’ll succeed.”

“The priestesses say we will encounter her,” I say, squatting down on my bare haunches, to I look out the cave entrance, and hoping I don’t present my ass too obscenely to Orteza. “And they said what happens after is unclear,” I add. “That probably was the truth.”

“Priestesses don’t lie,” Orteza says defensively.

“Hmm,” I say.

“They don’t!” insists Orteza.

“They do not present false information, but they are capable of presenting information in a way which creates the wrong impression. I’ve seen it. But anyway, it doesn’t matter. We’re not here for a theology debate. We will encounter her. We will save her, or we will end her.”

I reach up and pull the rope of my sweat-matted hair round, and squeeze it to try to ring out some of the liquid. My hair, one of the few vanities I permit myself, flows way down my back, and normally looks like a fetching curtain of gleaming alloy, but under the suit it’s only been a burden that’s added to the heat.

Orteza must be watching me do this, because she says, “You know if it wasn’t for that hair color, you’d look just like…”

“I know,” I cut her off.

Thankfully, she’s silent, so I can think.

To the cruel men of Aghara-Penthay, their interest in our Djeneria is only in her value and use as a sexual slave, and the message and humiliation her capture would deliver to The Sect, and to the women of the galaxy. The Slavers do not kill beautiful women. They break them.

But we in The Sect cannot accept a living Djeneria surviving in sexual slavery – shaming the Gods and The Sect for years to come. And so, the Djenerion’s leading council, The Nine, sent my team. The objective, they told them in the briefing, was simple. Find Tisya. If she’s still virgin, take her with us and attempt to leave using the same disguises that delivered us here. If it’s too late, kill her, so another Djeneria might be found. The Sect needed an experienced fighter in charge, and as one of the few Okhoron who wasn’t captured in the space battle for Tisya, I was persuaded to lead the mission. Well, for that reason, and the other reasons they gave me…

“How many have you killed?” Orteza blurts out. Her voice is faltering. “I mean… before those men on the shuttle.” I wonder if she’s been intimidated by watching the form. “I’ve never seen anything like it. You move like you read their minds.”

“I’ve killed enough,” I state simply.

“But women?” Orteza presses, “Could you kill Tisya?”

I think back to her voice: “The Elder God has found you suitable, Ajeedie.”

“I will kill her, if I must.”

“Even if that means the Slavers hunt us down?”

I stop and look round at her, rising to my feet. I don’t want to talk any more about this.

“I’ve killed women. I could kill you if you get in the way of the mission. Don’t give me a reason.”

Orteza seems to shrink, as though humbling herself. Unable to switch off the instinct for mutual appraisal, I notice that her nipples are abnormally large in relation to her average-sized breasts, and they’re an odd color – almost dark green. Alien genetics again.

“If we are going to get caught, do it cleanly,” she says, and it’s a plea. “A shot to the back of the head. Before I know it.”

“I promise,” I reply in a gentler tone than I’ve used before with her.

As I’ve mentioned, suicide is an unforgiveable act to members of the Djenerion Sect, but there is much less prohibition on murder. Our group was meant to contain even numbers, until The Nine added me. If escape from the surface becomes impossible, with only slavery ahead we will free each other from the horrors of life. Except that leaves us the problem of the last one.

“What are we going to do with the slaves? During the attack?” says Orteza.

It’s a mistake for her to mention the women. I can’t help snorting with derision, and Orteza’s reciprocal dark expression shows our truce has just ended.

“You have a nerve asking me that. Keeping them was your idea. You deal with them.”

“We couldn’t just let them die,” says Orteza.

“We could, and should. The implanted one is dangerous,” I say, with more conviction than I feel. I too had watched her in the cave, admired her, and asked if she deserved a chance at life. “What if they track her to us? What if she sides with her Masters? We cannot let her know that we’re really women.”

“But the three others have a chance at fighting for their freedom,” says Orteza. “They can help.”

“They’re good for nothing. Look at them, they’re scared out of their wits. They’re more likely to get us caught than to help us away from here. And what happens if we do succeed, and we survive long enough to make it to the rendezvous? You know it’s not permitted to take unmarked women off the planet’s surface. We should have let them die in the crash.”

Orteza stares at me very directly.

“Our Sect’s beliefs are life affirming. Something terrible must have happened to you, Ajeedie, to make you give up on all that.”

“Call it an Okhoron thing,” I say gruffly.

“No… I’ve met other Okhoron and they were warm. You’re dead behind the eyes.”

(A man’s voice: “A Rape Run grade piece of tail, you are”. And then the voice of Tisya: “The Elder God has found you suitable, Ajeedie.”)

Angrily I snatch up my bodysuit. Here on this cruel planet, I can no longer bear being a naked woman. I’d rather be melting than be exposed.

“It’s time to get back. We can’t be out of touch from the others for too long.”

She studies me for a moment, and looks as though she’s about to say more, but thankfully I’m able to silence her with a look, and we return to the others without more talking.

4 - Raid

As soon as the sun has set, we leave Ko at the cave guarding the women, and the remaining six of us start picking our way across the barren ground. She is most expendable in terms of this operation, having only limited combat ability. Also, if one of us is seriously wounded, we are unlikely to be able to deliver the injured woman off this world anyway. The bodysuits are fragile, and each of us knows that a damaged suit will lead to the indignity of the undisguised female abandoning it, and being forced to assume the role of our captive. For a wounded woman with a broken suit, a shot to the head might be the kindest solution.

Orteza is laden with the tech, and carries only a hand blaster fastened to her belt. Illyri also concentrates on equipment. Norenda, Diaz and Ak-Mancheen and myself are bearing the heavy weaponry. I look approvingly at my squad in their disguises – perhaps shorter than average for a group of men, but otherwise convincingly masculine, and appearing exceptionally seedy even for that sex. No one would ever know the truth.

Some of the ground in The Zone is sandy, but where we are now it’s stony underfoot, and it’s difficult to move in low light without making noise. We’re all supremely grateful for Orteza’s long range scanning to avoid danger. Without it, we’d all be even more nervous.

“Multiple lifesigns, two clicks” Orteza says. “Slaver group. Bearing 225, stationary. Also a single lifesign, stationary. Animal or female. Bearing 180. One click.”

“It could be a Runner,” says Norenda. “What if it’s Tisya? We could be on our way home tonight.”

“We could spend half the night hunting the desert, and even if it is a Runner, the odds are small a target would be her. Finding one of the other Runners would just attract attention. No – we need that Slaver tech first.”

The sky is cloudless, and above us, the myriad stars of the galaxy look peaceful. Aghara-Penthay has no moons to reflect light, so even after our eyes have adjusted it is still very dark. But the temperature is mercifully cool, so we’ll last until dawn before needing to purge. Ak-Mancheen is trying to lift the mood and says, “Nice night for a walk,” but then because she’s looking up, she sends a shower of stones skittering across the ground.

“Night vision,” I order curtly.

When we’re fifteen minutes into the march, Orteza identifies a new single lifeform, moving at the speed of running human. It will bisect our path about two hundred yards ahead.

“Cover!” I order, and we conceal ourselves in a nearby ruined building. Although Illyri watches through her goggles from the entrance, we don’t even get a visual to confirm the lifeform’s species.

“All clear,” I say after ten minutes, and we move out again.

The rules of The Rape Run state that the faction leaders and their teams must not move around or hunt at night. This isn’t for the Slaver’s benefit – it’s because men aren’t the only predators in the desert, and it’s too dangerous to encourage Runners to be fleeing during darkness. The audience prefer watching rapes, not fatalities. Hunters sometimes maintain a watch, however, and then pursue any Runners they spot with the return of daylight. So as we start drawing close to the Hunter encampment we move more cautiously, keeping always in cover and progressing from building to building. I have my team move following a wide arc, so we don’t approach in a straight line, leaving an easy trail to track to our origin. But even for those who take the utmost precautions The Zone has its hazards, and in one of these building shells only a quarter of a mile from our target, we nearly come undone.

“Someone’s been here recently,” says Norenda, puzzled. “A Runner, maybe. Look, there’s a ration pack. Food and water.”

The rations are on the floor, in a plastic case right in the middle of an otherwise empty room. The lid has even been left open to show the contents.

“That’s not a Runner’s rations,” Illyri says. “They only get sperm to drink, and they’re forced to eat that foul broth made for slaves. Maybe it’s for one of the admin teams?”

“Look, delicacies,” adds Norenda. She’s already reaching for the case when I understand.

“No!” I cry, diving for her knees to tackle her to the ground before she touches the treats, but it’s too late. The clang of metal is deafening against the almost silent night, as something huge plummets from the ceiling. The cage which has dropped from the roof fills half the room. The trap was designed to catch a lone Runner foolish enough to disturb the rations, firing when they’d naturally be in the center. It’s only sheer luck that none of our larger group was underneath the heavy ironwork.

But the trap did its work. Norenda and I are behind the bars. Orteza, Diaz, Ak-Mancheen and Illyri are free. Within a moment Illyri starts up, moaning in fear, the sound odd in a masculine voice, and I see I need to assert control before the whole team descends into panic.

“Stop that! Look for a winch mechanism,” I order. “There must be a way they use to lift it back up when they catch someone.” I add, “Now!”

Women search the room.

“It will have triggered an alarm,” whines Illyri, her modified voice still high and reedy. “Slavers will come.”

“It will,” I agree, “but remember there’s only the Hunter teams in The Zone right now, and they’re not allowed to move at night. As long as we get out the cage before dawn, we’re safe.”

Disguised behind a battered cover on the wall Norenda discovers a keypad, with a glowing LED betraying that it’s under power. We’re going to get nowhere using that without its code, however.

“Try to lift this edge of the cage,” I command next, pointing to the floor, and as one we strain against the heavy metalwork. Mercifully, it begins to shift. The trap is meant to catch a lone Rape Runner, and for that unlucky woman escape would be impossible. But with the whole team working we’re able to raise the bottom edge by six inches, leaving enough gap to escape underneath. But at a cost. Just from this small amount of exertion I feel myself cooking again inside the body suit. No matter. As long as we can escape. Norenda wriggles out first, while I support the lifting with the other women.

I want to keep proving my courage, my Okhoron superiority over the rest of them. Respect will be important later. So when it’s my turn I nonchalantly say, “Might as well take the treats as we’re here”, and ignoring Illyri’s cry of horror I remove the plastic case from the center of the room. The sensors are there, visible underneath, but they can only trigger the cage once. Hitting the ground, I crawl forward, boot camp style, under the metal cage, which is trembling despite my team’s combined effort.

“Good. Obscure our footprints, and then let’s continue,” I say with forced calm.

Illyri is still jittery after we’ve resumed, and the rest of the team are being affected by her anxiety. Every time someone accidentally kicks stones across the gravelly ground, women jump, scanning around with their weapons. We are irritable with each other.

“The trap was triggered,” Illyri is still moaning. “A Runner couldn’t have escaped from the cage. They will know that a group has been here. They will know there are others in The Zone.”

“That’s why I took this,” I say, waving the case of provisions. “They will think an animal activated the sensors. Something small enough to slip through the bars. So stop crying like a baby. No one will believe you’re male with that much bitching going on.”

That shuts her up. And the incident was perhaps even a good thing, for my team are more careful after that. We hike for thirty minutes encountering nothing, until we end up concealed in yet another ruin, peering through cavities in a building which, centuries ago, might have held windows. We’ve only been moving at a steady march, but it was enough that I’m drenched in sweat inside the bodysuit. It pools everywhere flesh presses against flesh – in between my breasts, which have to be squashed uncomfortably to make them appear like pectoral muscles, in the cleft of my ass, under my arms, everywhere.

Using night vision goggles I take in the scene. The precise location of each faction leader’s base camp in The Zone is kept secret, but I have watched enough footage of prior Rape Runs to be familiar with the layouts used by each leader, and I know whose camp lies only fifty yards in front of us.

“Lotho-Etsarra,” I say with distaste. Of all of the Faction leaders who we might meet to destroy, I’d hoped we’d come across Salarin first. Salarin the Sadist, the monster who haunts the nightmares of so many women. From this sorry nightmare, we could have done some good for the universe if we’d killed Salarin. But there’s always tomorrow.

“That means the one captive Runner is there,” Orteza says. “Siilka. A victim will bring extra men to the camp.”

She is correct. With the Slavers unable to hunt during darkness, they normally turn their attention to abusing their captives. Estimates by organizations which support the galaxy’s women claim a failed Rape Runner is violated by between ten and fifty men on her first night in captivity.

I consider leaving to look for Salarin’s camp. Tempting, but no.

“It cannot be helped,” I say. “There isn’t time to find another Hunter before dawn.”

“At least there’s no watch,” Diaz says with relief. Another good reason to choose this place.

I look around my team. Women disguised as men. Not one experienced warrior. I’m probably the only one who has killed before. We must act before their fears build. I need to be first to bring death upon this place, and once it’s irrevocably begun, they’ll have no choice but to follow.

“Ready equipment,” I order. “Let’s teach these fuckers a lesson. This is what we came to do.”

Most of my team check blasters, but Illyri takes something from her backpack – a metal oval which reminds me of a sports ball. I would expect such a device to have a glowing light, something to signify technology, but there is nothing.

“Remember, we’re looking for a pad. The Hunters are permitted almost no tech during The Run, so it’s probably the only device you’ll see. Our whole operation is impossible without that pad. Norenda, Orteza – search and clear the building on the left. Diaz, Ak-Mancheen – the right. I’ll take the center one alone. Illyri – you stay outside, in case anyone escapes the buildings, and mop up.”

They know our objectives already, but a reminder is never any harm. I try to sound more understanding.

“Listen - you’re all good and gentle people, but we must kill anyone who is not trapped in restraints. Even unbound slaves might be dangerous. The men will probably only have slave goads, because they’ll expect to be safe on their homeworld. I’m not expecting to face many fatal weapons. They don’t need them on the surface. But deadly or not, all the men must be eliminated, so no-one may follow us, and we can’t risk slaves being turned against us.”

There is an uncomfortable murmur – The Sect values life, but they know the necessity.

“Let’s do this. Ready?”

I give them one last moment, and then it begins.

“Activate the EMP Illyri. On my sign - three, two, one, mark.”

She hesitates for one last second, then squeezes the oval. To our perception, there is nothing. No noise, no light. We can only hope that the bomb has worked as intended, and the nearby cameras just went down. Unfortunately, during the Rape Run invisible cameras provide blanket coverage of each Runner, and each of the Hunters. There aren’t enough cameras to cover the entire Zone, but we must temporarily knock out the local ones before each encounter. The EMP weapon should hopefully do that.

“Go, go.”

Many people fear combat, but I’ve always found it a gloriously liberating release of tension. At last, there is for me no past, no future to think of, only the now of the mission. The ship, the cave, her voice, all those memories leave me. I even smile, as we move quickly across the ground, almost at a run. When we’re only yards away from the first building, and just as we’re separating into teams, the first man emerges from the doorway. He’s in the middle of rummaging with his pants, as though he’s just finished urinating. Or perhaps just finished raping someone. His unexpected arrival is actually good for us, because I’ve raised my blaster and killed him before the others have time to think. Rookies often hesitate faced with their first kill, and being led by example is always helpful.

I enter the doorway without pausing. The room is barely furnished, little more than a store with crates and provisions stacked up. Two men are inside, their Slaver uniforms disheveled and unkempt from a day’s foul labor. They look up as I enter, eyes widen when they see my blaster, and one is dead, another is dead, before they fully understood that this was their end.

“Dolork?” A male voice says, and from the next room he emerges. He just looks like another man, but he’s the one. Lotho-Etsarra, looking down in puzzlement at one of his prone troops. With my Okhoron speed I have the luxury of time to consider him. How many poor women have you violated, Lotho-Etsarra? Another victim added to your crimes only just now, wasn’t she? I can tell by your relaxed posture, and by the stench, you’ve had sex recently. Well, here’s one back for the women. With a surge of elation I aim, and deliberately use two shots to kill him – vaporizing the place between his legs, giving him just long enough to understand what he’s lost, then firing the fatal blast between his eyes before he’s hit the ground. Fuck you, Lotho-Etsarra. A woman just killed you! Rape me now!

Okhoron reflexes are in overdrive. From a third doorway behind to my left, I already sense another one of Lotho-Etsarra’s men approach. I turn while dropping, and raise my blaster. This one is actually armed, and reaching for his weapon, but he doesn’t do it fast enough to save him. Upright again, I make for the room from where the chief emerged.

I can hear growing sounds of men shouting, from directions close by and further away. They will know they’re under attack by now. Let’s hope the others are doing their jobs. There’s no return from here. Good. Fear us, fear women, for once in your lives.

The next room is the Slaver’s sleeping chamber, and in there I encounter the first female. Chained on her back, naked, ankles and wrists secured to the corners of the bed so she cannot protect herself, is the failed Rape Runner Siilka Noneeva. I’ve never seen a woman who looked so pathetic, so anguished, so completely broken. The ruin of her appearance is not enough to deter the male libido. Between her legs a man is fucking her, his combat pants round his knees, so I see his bare buttocks flexing as he thrusts deep within. Men are such animals! His sex drive is so strong that even with an incident occurring he risks his life to complete his pleasure. The shaft of his penis, which I can see during the withdrawal part of his stroke, is coated with a glistening slime of her sexual fluids.

I end him with a shot to the side of the head, so a spatter of red brains decorates the grubby wall and showers the girl. He slumps on Siilka, instantly inert. She screams.

I scan the room checking for other threats. It is clear. And on a stool, to my huge relief, I see discarded the object we’ve sought like it’s our holiest relic – the pad. Mission accomplished, but I will not take it yet – I should not encumber myself, not when I need two hands to get best results from the blaster. I briefly conceal it on the far side of the girl, who after gang rape and a bloodbath has lost her wits entirely, and is struggling hysterically underneath her assailant’s corpse.

The survival of all my team is more urgent than soothing the terrors of one failed Rape Runner, so I leave Siilka there in her chains and continue my sweep of the building. In the next room, I find a man crouched in terror in the corner, holding a goad between his legs to defend himself as though it’s some oversized electronic penis. Blocking my route to him is a naked female, her large breasts distracting for the angry red injuries across them. The side of her face carries the Slaver’s mark.

“Out of the way,” I order her. Compelled by her implant combined with my modulated voice she begins to move, but the man shrieks, “protect me” and overruled, she moves back to block my shot. Her face is a blend of emotions - fear, determination, and a plea – a plea to end this?

I hate to destroy an innocent, but there’s no choice. The primary owner coding will mean his command supersedes mine. I shoot her in the face, instantly, without a delay which would further her suffering. Again, blood and brains spatter everywhere. Lotho-Etsarra had it coming, but with the woman I allow myself a pause to respectfully mourn her, also letting the male anticipate what’s coming to him. I never knew anything of her life, but I still feel some sympathy.

Then I turn to him. He’s shaking almost uncontrollably.

“She didn’t have to die for you,” I state coldly. “You could have ordered her to retreat. It’s time for justice, brute!”

I kill him slowly, blasting his knees and working my way upwards, pulverizing every piece of him. Into each shot, I try to channel my hate for those men who have harmed vulnerable women. To begin with, his screams are deafening – let all males nearby hear and learn to fear Ajeedie. But soon he’s too far gone. Once there’s nothing but flesh, I leave this charnel house of a room, and continue. There are two more males in the building, but neither is armed with any weapon to present a real threat, and I’ve soon cleared the building. One has wet himself, hearing the approaching sounds from the executions.

I emerge into the starry night outside. Probably I should feel more, but I am empty with exhaustion. Illyri, shaking with fright and more disturbed by the screams than the men, raises her weapon, but recognizes me in time. In the open air, I contemplate going to assist the others who are still tidying up, but I decide to wait. With such amateur warriors, I’m more likely to get shot surprising my own side than to be helpful.

It’s a relief when all the others emerge alive. Ak-Mancheen has been hit with a goad, and holds one of her arms limp and numb, but that’s our only casualty. My team are jubilant with victory.

“Fuck you, Slavers!” Diaz crows.

“Do we have the pad?” Norenda asks. She has her head together more than the others.

“It’s in there, with the fallen Rape Runner,” I say, gesturing to the center building. “Everyone, keep watch for anyone attracted by the fight. I’ll go and fetch it. Get ready to pull out. We leave in five minutes.”

Back inside, the sight of me, apparently a male and one covered with gore, offers Siilka Noneeva little reassurance. She begins to scream and struggle.

“Stop panicking,” I say harshly. Carelessly, I roll the corpse off her body onto the floor, and I retrieve the pad from behind her. Then I look at her. It’s so strange to have a real Rape Runner – one of the galaxy’s most famous and beautiful women, so wholly in my power. Undeniably she’s stunning, even covered with human ruins. If I was a man, this is when I would take her.

The girl does not stop panicking. She’s too frightened to be coherent, and I realize I must shock her back to herself if we’re to have any dialogue. So without warning I reach between her thighs and cup her sex in the palm of my hand. Siilka gasps at that, tensing herself. Her abdomen sucks in as she inhales, and her chains clang as they go taut. My bodysuit is reducing my nerve sensitivity, but I can feel her organ is warm, and her nether lips are soft. No matter – it’s just a pussy.

My touch produces the desired effect. She quiets immediately, going rigid. Now she’s able to process what’s happening. If she thinks my interest in her is merely sexual, she can understand the threat.

“The killing is over.” I tell her, withdrawing my finger. “We cannot take you with us, they will track you, and we are a rogue Aghara-Penthay group, dissatisfied with our Faction Leaders. But other Slavers will be here soon. They will deal with you appropriately.”

Weakly Siilka lifts her head from the bed. Her expression is an appeal for kindness. Perhaps I’m the first male to show her the least consideration. It would be a mercy to kill her. I would give her that choice to live or die if I could, but her implant already prevents her seeking her own death, and she’d certainly refuse. More importantly, we are allegedly sowing discord between the factions, and it would be questioned why a rogue group would needlessly destroy a high value sample of flesh.

So having planted the lie which she will repeat when they come for her, I turn my back and abandon her.

I’m received like a champion by the team now I have the pad.

“Let’s get out of here,” I say, “before the cameras are back up.”

In high spirits, we set off across the rocky ground, tracking a zigzag route to the cave, intended to deter trackers. Orteza scans for life signs, but nothing is moving, and we feel no threat. The women talk boisterously, sounding like a bachelor party through their modulated voices. Even I’m effected by the camaraderie.

We halt to eat some rations, and even some of the delicacies removed from the Slaver trap. Now we’re safe, that near miss with the cage is nothing more than a soldier’s anecdote. To wash the food down, we risk passing round a flask of alcohol.

Unlike many belief systems, the Djenerion Sect does not prohibit alcohol, or even the consumption of meat. Only dairy produce is taboo, and for practical reasons. Seeing as the Gods favor virgin females, lactating mothers of any species are therefore classed by them as the antithesis of the blessed, and dairy interferes with the gifts. I am like most Djenerion, raised to reject dairy, and I now find the concept of consuming milk or cheese repellant. Only the darker, dairy-free candies are appealing.

Back at the cave Ko is waiting anxiously for us, her male form (a particularly swarthy and rough specimen, even by our standards) rubbing its hands together nervously.

“Thank the gods you’re all alive” she says with relief as she counts us back in. Everyone else is correctly here. The marked slave, Karmeena, lurking behind her in the shadows. The three fresh captures, still secured together by their necks, remain at the back of the cave as they try to avoid our attention.

“Get working on this,” I say to Orteza, casually tossing her the pad. “Find me the Djeneria.”

“The Rape Runners chips don’t emit signals overnight,” Orteza says, unnecessarily. “It would be too easy to identify the popular ones, while they were resting. But I’ll get on it at first light.”

“In that case, you purge with someone first, then take the first rest,” I tell her. “I’ll take first watch. Illyri – you’re on guard with me.”

Orteza clutches the pad to her chest. Recovering it should signal the end of our confrontations with the Slavers, meaning the most challenging part of the mission is done. It’s going well. Too well. And I should be careful, seeing how the gods have never been on my side.

5- Missing

As the Rape Run grew in popularity, the Slavers developed more sophisticated means of maximizing the pleasure of the galactic audience. More pleasure meant more watchers. More watchers meant a higher profile for the Slavers. There were more visitors to The Hub. More credits were spent, and captives were sold.

One of the measures they introduced was a system reversing the traditional ability of a sports fan to support their favorite. Viewers were able to sponsor the Runner they most wished to see raped, and that woman would be given a handicap, increasing her chance of being caught. To shorten the Run, using this system, each Runner’s location is broadcast intermittently to a pad, one of which is in possession of the hunting faction leaders. The signal is anonymous – no more than: “There is a Runner at these coordinates”, but it works brilliantly. It makes it risky for a woman to remain long in the same place. Runners need to run, and in the open rather than hiding, they’re more vulnerable. The handicap system means that the most popular Runners have their locations broadcast more often. If a woman remains hidden in one location for too long, a Hunter can guess her identity, just from the frequency of the signal. But so long as Runners move and overlap their paths, the handicap only gives a modest increase to her risk of capture, and there remains the sporting element of luck and strategy.

Hunters are not permitted typical tech - life sign trackers - in The Zone. Combining a standard life tracker, i.e. technology constantly recording the positions of living creatures, combining that with a Hunter’s pad, would enable Hunters to lock onto each Runner. Cross referencing steady fixes with knowledge of the handicaps, individual Runners could easily be identified by their signal frequency. Which is precisely why a pad was so important to us. I go to rest leaving Orteza busily trying to synchronize the equipment. With luck, soon after first light, we will pinpoint Tisya’s position.

My first morning in The Zone begins when I am woken roughly, by someone shaking me.

“Ajeedie!” and then surprisingly, “Commander!”

Not good, then. It’s either bad news or someone feeling guilty, if they’re willingly using my title. I’m upright before I know it, and facing Ko.

“Commander - the sun’s up, and we’ve got incoming – Slaver group. We need to move. They’ll pass right across us in five minutes if we don’t relocate.”

I’m awake instantly, scrambling to my feet.

“Get everything ready,” I order.

“Everything’s loaded,” Ko says in a frightened voice. And I see it is. There’s a ring of faces, backpacks ready and waiting to be picked up. Even mine has been done for me. This preparation took some time. But something is amiss. The sunrays penetrating the cave entrance cast too steep a shadow for first light.

“How long after dawn is it?” I demand.

“An hour,” Ko says. She has an odd expression – like a schoolgirl who’s done wrong and is waiting to be found out. I look around.

“Why the hell didn’t you wake me before then?” I demand. “Let’s go.”

And then I notice it.

“Where’s Norenda?”

“Please Ajeedie, she made me let her go.”

“Ko? Where the fuck is Norenda?”

“She went to purge. Wanted to do it in private. She said she’d only be ten minutes, but that was before the sun was up.”

“What were you thinking? We purge in twos. Always in twos.” I notice the slaves are watching, puzzled. They’ve picked up on the verbal slip. Even in this crisis I have the sense to be cautious. “And what do you mean “she”? Norenda is a he, remember.”

I am told that the implant responds to male voice modulation, but in a pressure situation, it may be enough for the slaves to resist if they know we are women. The primary owner coding will mean they follow Slaver orders, rather than ours, if they manage to discover we’re females in disguise.

“It doesn’t matter now why Ko did it,” Orteza says. “We need to find Norenda, and get out of here.”

“At least you’re right on that,” I retort. “And I presume you’ll have something to do with the disappearance too. Ko doesn’t have the balls to do something this dumb on her own initiative. But let’s save ourselves first, and deal with the fallout later.”

“Ko is a he, remember, not her? His initiative,” Orteza fires back at me. A fair hit.

We abandon our cave, plotting a course perpendicular to the incoming Slaver team, and we make for a low peak that will offer us a good vantage point down to the flat floor of The Zone. There’s a breeze blowing this morning. It would be cooling on any other planet, but on Aghara-Penthay it’s like sitting under a huge hair dryer which kicks up dust and sand, getting grit in the eyes.

Even over the rising dust, to the north I can still make out a thicker a plume rising, where the band of men are approaching. We’re moving almost in a panic speed, but all the same our progress to the peak feels slow. The ground is hard, made of sharp stones and sand blasted rock, and it’s difficult for the barefoot slave women to walk. Again I curse the decision to bring them with us.

We reach cover – not timing it like a movie: it doesn’t happen like we’re cutting it so fine that there’s seconds to spare, but it’s dangerously close all the same. Squatting down in the cover of a natural wall of rocks, I cautiously peer over the top, my view magnified by the sniper scope of my weapon.

I count a group of ten men, riding on low hover platforms. They have scarves wrapped around their faces to protect them from the dust, so you can only see eyes. The insignia on their clothing identifies them as being of the late unlamented Lotho-Etsarra’s faction. It doesn’t take long to identify the commander – a male so tall and gangly that he perhaps has some alien genetics. I note they are not one of the Hunter groups looking for Rape Runners – I see no faction chief among them. This is bad news for us. If other Slaver troops are being permitted into The Zone, then that means they’re using them to look for the rogues. Us. Not good, but not as bad as what they have with them.

Two of the men in a line carry a long alloy bar propped across their shoulders. From this, is suspended a captive, bound at the wrist and ankle. She hangs face down, so her spine bends back in an uncomfortable curve.

Norenda’s bodysuit hangs halfway off her, as though she decided to push her overalls down to her waist during hot work. Her coffee-colored breasts droop low and heavy. She seems unconscious, but perhaps that is feigned, her attempt to escape the horror which soon will fall on her.

I grimace. Poor Norenda. We weren’t the best of friends, but any woman would feel sympathy for someone facing her future. She has doomed herself, the fool. All because she was ashamed to take a dump in front of someone else. She’ll be allowed no body secrets anymore. They will implant her – the quickest and most reliable means of interrogation. Then she will tell them everything. About our mission, about who we are, all of it. For now, the men bypass our cave, which means she can’t have talked to them yet. If she were under their control, they’d already be making for our sleeping place. But it’s inevitable she will talk. The Slavers of Aghara-Penthay are about to learn that a group of disguised women are in The Zone, and they’re making for the Djeneria, using a stolen pad.

Moving the stock of the blaster into my shoulder, I aim at her, and begin to control my breathing ready for taking the shot.

“Ajeedie, what are you doing?” Orteza says indignantly from next to me.

“I must kill her.”

“But then those men will find us!” Ko says in a panicked voice. “They’ll know where the shot came from.”

Yes, the blast will give away our position, and a firefight with these men is almost inevitable, but better than the certainty of Norenda talking, after which all hope is lost. Determinedly, I move the sight with her unconscious, topless form. The Slavers are almost in cover, approaching a canyon between the rocks, but I am ready.

“It’s worth the risk,” I state firmly.

As I begin to squeeze the trigger though someone knocks my weapon sharply upwards, raising the blaster almost to vertical. It is only down to a miracle that the weapon does not discharge, betraying our location.

“What in the three hells, Orteza?”

“That’s Norenda. You can’t just kill Norenda because she’s been caught.”

“I’m not killing her because she’s been caught. I’m killing her because of what they’ll do to her. They’ll implant her, and she’ll tell them everything she knows about our mission, and then they’ll come for the rest of us.”

The remainder of my team shift nervously from foot to foot.

“I’ll be humane. But it’s her or us. I have to…”

I turn back to the view from our hiding place and half raise the blaster, but the Slaver team are already in cover in the rocks.

I moan, as the reality of our predicament sinks in.

“Gods damn you all to The Nine. That’s it now, you fools,” I tell them. “We only have a few hours before they’ll know everything. Do you know what kind of things the Slavers do to women who dare to take them on? You’d better pray all they do is rape us.”

The fear begins to spread through the group.

“We need to abort, make for the rendezvous,” wails Ak-Mancheen.

“That won’t help, you know that,” I reply. “We can’t just hang around a landing pad for two days waiting for our ride. And as soon as Norenda talks, they’ll arrest the recovery team up on The Hub.”

“Then we steal a shuttle,” pleads Diaz.

“We’ll have to try,” I confirm, fighting the despair swelling inside me, “that’s our best choice now - but our most experienced pilot is currently dangling half-naked from that alloy pole.”

I’m not immune to the growing terror infecting everyone else. Gods help me, by sunset I’ll probably be dead or a sex slave. Wanting to take it out on someone, I round on Orteza. Let the group blame her.

“How could you block my shot. Your little crush has doomed us all,” I state. “I should have killed Norenda. Instead she will betray everyone.”

“Hope is not lost entirely, there’s the shuttle,” Orteza argues valiantly, but finally the others are on my side.

“Shut your hole, Orteza,” says Ko, and the others murmur agreement.

“What’s with you? You didn’t want Norenda to die either,” Orteza continues to protest.

“Of course not,” says Ko, “but one blast would be kinder than what’s going to happen to her, and then to all of us.”

“No! This can’t be real… What are we going to do?” moans Illyri.

“We try for hijacking a shuttle,” I say firmly, “but we can still make for the Djeneria first, if we go right now. As long as Orteza has cracked those IDs and done one job properly today, that is. But the second Norenda talks, the whole mission is lost. Rape Run or not, as soon as they know Tisya is our target, she’ll be guarded. I estimate we have a couple of hours at most to hunt the Djeneria. If we don’t have her by then, we must abandon her, make for the launch pads outside The Zone, and try to steal a shuttle or bluff our way up to The Hub.”

I’ve never seen a group of men look so frightened. But my team, in their bodysuits, nod assent, and I feel a moment of pride for the courage of these women. The slaves watch silently. Of course, they will have guessed the rest. They will know we are women. But does that mean our control over Karmeena has been lost, or will she follow my masculine modulated voice?

“Slaves, you know what we are?” I ask bluntly, “And therefore, why we haven’t violated you?”

They nod cautiously, Karmeena in her wrap, and the three nude fresh captures, chained at the neck.

“I need to check our control over your implant still works. Forgive me, but Karmeena, swallow one of those stones,” I order her, and she crouches and reaches to the dirt immediately, popping a small stone between her lips like it’s a sweet treat and gulping it back.

“Our voices still compel you, then?” I ask her.

“They tell us it’s to do with the pitch, Mas…” she hesitates, “Masters. It’s easier to call you that. But I warn you, I am Slaver property. If one of them calls me, you must destroy me. I am not safe.”

“Noted,” I reply. “And on that topic…” Are they ready to hear what I must say next? It must be told, all the same.

“To everyone - you’ve all understood now my team are all women here, women in male bodysuits. We are women of the Djenerion, on a mission to spare our leader from the degradation of the Rape Run. The most likely outcome is the Slavers will find us, as we try to complete our work.”

“My first message is to the women in my original team. I say that each of you must reconsider her own heart, and decide if you wish to die – fighting, or shot by one of your sisters, or if you’d prefer to be taken alive and live as an implanted sex slave, with a future like hers,” and I indicate Karmeena. “We will pause in one hour, and announce our answers. Your sisters will try to carry them out, if things turn out for the worst.”

I consider the other women captives, those not-yet implanted. Perhaps saving them was a good idea after all.

“To you fresh captures, you are not implanted and still have free will. Now you know the truth, you can choose to fight with us, or accompany us in the role of slaves. Our chance of escape is small now, but it is still a chance. The choice to die with your dignity, rather than spend your future serving Aghara-Penthay.”

I gesture to where the group took Norenda. In the canyons of rocks, the dust from the Slaver group has vanished.

“Think on it. But you must think while we move. We are in danger here,” I state. “Now, Orteza – it’s finally your moment. Where is the Djeneria?”

“I have her,” Orteza says, with some of the swagger already returning. By deflecting my blaster back there she’s doomed Norenda and probably us all, but she’s not cowed. The bitch annoys me so much. I vow that if I have chance, I will deal with her before this is over.

“Then let’s go,” I order, and as one we move.

6 - Choice.

Even with Slaver-grade tech, it takes a little while to edit rape footage. Each time a Runner is captured, the highlights of her downfall are broadcast for the entertainment of the galaxy, and shown on giant displays projected across The Zone.

Thus it is possible for us to look up in the sky and watch Baleria Acron, a brunette stunner, being violated by The Alien on a giant display, while the real living Alien strides around his camp a short distance ahead of us. Baleria was the host of one of the most popular game shows in the galaxy - Harem – where contestants win by building the largest group of simultaneous sexual partners from the galactic public. These participants must remain unaware they’re supporting cast in the show - Harem is a hidden camera program - but must be fully informed about any other partners – the entertainment deriving from how contestants persuade multiple individuals to be a willing member of someone’s harem. Sex usually involves the contestant with individuals, but sometimes there are groups. Of course, the orgies, shown in full, are the main erotic incentive for many viewers.

Famously chaste, Baleria lived by different rules to those in her show, and her sex life remained entirely private. The galactic media stalked her on each vacation, trying to catch an image of her with a partner, but she always outwitted them. Paraded for the Rape Run as all contestants are, it was a surprise to the universe when she wore a tag identifying that she wasn’t a virgin.

Baleria’s going to have a lot of partners from now on. Footage of her naked, her rather-flat chest squirming as she writhed in pain, suffering impalement on the giant penis of the Alien, will be enjoyed forevermore by perverts and sadists across the universe. Once Jackran-ad-aktar had his fill and she was left barely conscious, she was gang raped by others from his men.

“You’re sure Tisya’s in there?” I ask Orteza, ignoring the moans of sexual activity reverberating across the sky.

She nods, although from my rear view I barely see it when her head is only visible behind a ginormous backpack.

“Gods have mercy, the Alien has the Djeneria,” moans Illyri.

“Hey, why don’t you get someone else to take some of your kit?” I interrupt, complaining testily to Orteza. “One of the naked ones? You look ridiculous. And by noon you’ll be collapsing from carrying that in the heat.”

Frightened, Orteza has tried to reassure herself by arming against all eventualities. As well as the scanner pad and EMP devices, she has added a belt of grenades, a blast-proof vest, a heavy blaster, hydration fluids, and a first aid kit.

“If I start struggling, I’ll hand some of it over,” she insists.

On her head be it. But I pray she doesn’t collapse. Please gods, no more incidents thanks to my team’s foolishness. This mission has been an unending stream of own goals, scored thanks to the poor judgment of people like Orteza. We should never have spared the slaves. Norenda shouldn’t have gone on her own to take a crap. Orteza shouldn’t have protected Norenda from my shot. And then Tisya shouldn’t have got herself caught by The Alien only minutes before we would have reached her.

The only piece of good fortune we have is that the men ahead of us in The Alien’s camp don’t yet seem to be armed. Either the significance of Norenda hasn’t been understood yet, or word hasn’t reached Jackran-ad-aktar’s faction that an infiltration group are in The Zone, and are heading for the Djeneria. It’s only a matter of time, though. Then our leader will be guarded, by men with blaster weapons. While they protect Tisya, we will be hunted, and mercilessly destroyed or enslaved.

The eerie silence in The Zone belies the horror ahead. These peaceful minutes might be our last moments before chaos is permanently unleased, so I address the group.

“It is time,” I tell them. “We might not get another chance to talk, so each of you must tell us your choice, in case it goes wrong. It’s a simple decision. Death or captivity.”

“I choose to die,” Ak-Mancheen says firmly.

“I choose to die,” agrees one of the nude women captives. “They’ve raped me already. Anything is better than another man, touching me like that. Let me fight alongside you.”

“Me also,” says her friend. “I will fight until the end, if necessary.”

Diaz seems to be wavering, but she follows the others.

“I’d rather die,” she states quietly.

Ko is the first to take the other path.

“I choose slavery,” she says, and then in response to the discontented murmurings, explains. “Even implanted, there is hope. I might be rescued. I might have an owner who is kind to me. Death is final. Some slaves do have a future.”

“I’m with her, I choose slavery,” says Illyri. She was always closest to Ko, so that’s not surprising.

“I choose slavery,” says the third of the naked captives. “It’s just sex. It’s not so bad.”

She can’t know much about Aghara-Penthay yet, then. But seeing how she’s linked at the neck with women with blasters, it’s going to be impossible for the last one to avoid the firing line in the event of executions. Still, disillusioning her will only cause trouble. I nod.

“I often wish to die,” says the marked, implanted woman named Karmeena. “But I cannot end myself. And I cannot harm males. The control of my implant is absolute. I understand you are women dressed in male suits, and yet I hear and see you, and must serve your every command, as though you were men. The girl I once was would beg that you spare me more suffering, if it looks like I must return to my true masters.”

“Orteza?” I ask.

“I’m a virgin,” she says bravely, “and a lesbian. The prospect of a man inside me is repellant. Actually, I have a phobia of any form of penetration. I can’t even stand the feeling of a woman fingering me.”

She pauses.

“So there’s only one answer. I choose death.”

“So that’s all of us.” I state. “I think we’re ready. Can you give weapons to the women who want them. And then we’ll begin.”

“There’s still you, Ajeedie,” Orteza says pointedly. “Don’t put the rest of us through this confession and not participate yourself. I’ve seen you naked. You’d make a prize slave.”

I pause, and let myself reflect on a life of service to the Sect, on everything that bought me to that place, and of a destiny that seemed to inevitably deliver me to Aghara-Penthay. But it’s his voice that comes to me - “A Rape Run grade piece of tail, you are”.

“I too choose death,” I state firmly.

7 - Tisya.

The ground we’re crossing ramps down to a rockface – the cliff then climbing back to the flat level floor of The Zone, thus forming a depression where a series of ancient buildings shelter in the lee of the rocks. The buildings are identifiable as another of the hunting camps of the faction leaders, for in the open we can see the typical apparatus of slave hunting – cages, crosses, and devices of restraint.

We proceed across the ground at a leisurely walking pace, heading for the camp as though we’re meant to be there. It is common for there to be hangers-on and other male ne’er-do-wells in The Zone, men who make the most of the aftermath of the captures in order to rape Runners otherwise out of their purchasing ability. The camp guards are unlikely to notice a few more scavengers drifting in to enjoy the kill.

I order my team to act as such a group – low caste Slavers sniffing around the downfall of Baleria Acron, and once we’re nearby, we’re to commence the attack from point blank range. The naked ones, chained together at the neck, I order to hang back until the battle is over. I don’t doubt their commitment to escaping this hellhole, but someone needs to guard Karmeena, and the sight of armed female nudes will blow our cover immediately. The captives are an indirect help though, as their duties free Ko to join us for this attack, making up for the absent Norenda.

And thus it proceeds. Like the previous night, an EMP discreetly disables the cameras, and then I open the hostilities by blasting a Slaver from such close range that most of his upper body disappears, spread in a gory fan across the rocky ground of the zone. Excellent. It gives me great satisfaction each time I vaporize another Slaver man. Like the previous night, the Alien emerges before realizing the danger. He seems gigantic in real life – over seven feet tall and equally oversized in every dimension. Ready for his next act of perversion, he wears only a rectangle of cloth which hangs across his loins.

My team are battled-hardened after our first encounter, so the others follow my lead in the destruction more quickly than last time. Thus it happens that I am not the one who kills the faction leader this time, but that is fine – I detest The Alien no more than most males of Aghara-Penthay. All that matters is that he is dead, and a shared victory will strengthen our morale when things soon deteriorate.

Dead, Jackran-ad-aktar lies sprawled on his back, one of his arms twisted at an unnatural angle underneath him. His loincloth has slipped to the side, and I can see his infamous organ. Even limp, I can tell it’s simply colossal, and I’m unable to conceive the suffering a woman would feel if that thing were to penetrate her body. Suppressing a shudder, I move on.

As planned, we break up into groups and clear the buildings. Inside one, I drive out a man who has taken cover armed with a slave goad. He hides behind a doorway, but Okhoron instinct warns me there’s someone inside, and I react at supernatural speed, rolling into the room with weapon aimed. He too is quick though, and he manages to touch my shoulder with the goad as I blast a hole through him large enough that if I wished, I could slip my clenched fist straight through his chest and out his back.

The bodysuit offers me some protection, but the Slaver weapon still delivers an intense jolt of pain, and my arm is left tingling and useless in the aftermath. For a while I’m forced to heft my blaster mostly in one hand – a handicap that restricts my accuracy. In spite of this minor injury, again we are lucky, though. The cleansing is easy, and the naked captives follow as soon as they can see there’s no real men alive to give Karmeena a command.

“Where is Tisya?” I demand as we reassemble outside.

“In there,” says Diaz. I can tell from her body language she has chosen not to identify herself to our leader. Star-struck.

With my heart accelerated from more than the combat, I make my way inside, and everyone else follows me. I’d prefer they didn’t, but it can’t be helped. It’s natural for them to want to witness the culmination of the mission.

As we enter the room where she’s being held, I hear Orteza, who is closest behind me, moan at the sight of our leader.

One of the pieces of equipment inside here is a simple padded bench with a metal frame, much like the workout furniture found in the Okhoron gym. On her back, secured to this bench is Tisya, the Djeneria, and revered leader of our sect. She is naked. I’ve seen Tisya in states of undress before, but never naked like this. Her knees are spread, ankles bent back and secured either side of the bench, so she is forced to remain with her thighs open, vulva exposed, and I can see every detail of the private place between her legs. The hair she once had down there has been removed. This is a common treatment for Slaver captives. They have marked her face, as they do with all female prisoners processed on Aghara-Penthay. It softens her, making her look more beautiful. The mark is proof of the chip she carries. Rape Runners are not spared implantation and marking – it avoids the competitors escaping by suicide. Only the winner is spared the full activation of her implant, triggering a lifetime of servitude to men.

Other than the processing she’s suffered, Tisya is surprisingly undamaged. Unharmed.

I heard say that The Alien is unable to regain arousal for a significant time after mating, and that must be what’s happened here. If he’d used her, we’d be able to tell by the ruination between her legs. Tisya is being held in readiness for his pleasure later. Seeing our entrance, she thinks that time has come, and she becomes frightened. She struggles, trying futilely to retreat up the bench and away from us. She’s believes we’re a group of Slaver men, as she’s supposed to.

“Praise The Nine. They’ve not tainted her yet. Quick - someone look for the keys,” says Orteza, and then changes her mind. “No. I’ll go find them.”

“Holy Djeneria,” says Ak-Mancheen, deferential in the presence of the leader. “My name is Ak-Mancheen. Do not fear. We’re not men. We’re women. Women of the Sect. We’re here to rescue you.”

But the sight of us, dubious and dirty in our bodysuit, overrides the words. It’s too much for her to believe, and Tisya continues to try and get free. There hasn’t been a Runner successfully rescued for years. She probably thinks the words are a cruel trick.

Taking the direct approach, I’m already beginning to pull at the back of my neck, intent on teasing the suit away from my face. And then I’m unveiled, the real-me pouring sweat in the heat of Aghara-Penthay, as usual. My team wait quietly as I strip right down to the waist, my head and real chest exposed, much like Norenda after capture. The others let me take the lead. It’s natural that one of us would make some gesture in order to calm Tisya. They don’t know just how personal it is between us. They don’t know how much I want it to be me that Tisya sees. The true Ajeedie.

“You,” says Tisya, once I stand half-naked before her. “Ajeedie. The Nine always said our fates were connected. So, you’re the one whom the Gods sent to me.”

“I’ve found the keys, they were on the alien,” interrupts Orteza, bursting back into the room, and then she says “Oh!” at the sight of me in my topless finery, standing over the leader.

I’ve learned my lesson from what happened with Norenda. This time I won’t let one of the team stop me.

“Wait, Ajeedie,” says Tisya, who might have some inkling what’s coming, but I raise my blaster and shoot our unviolated leader full in the face, before she can finish her sentence. Even for the hardened soldier, the result is a bloody sight. Tisya’s brains spray in every direction. Ak-Mancheen, who was standing closest to the burst, stands frozen with shock. The Djeneria’s remains are spattered across her body.

Panic breaks out next, and I fire my blaster again, into the floor, to get their attention. I shout: “Everyone stand still,” and calm the team at the point of a blaster.

“What the fuck, Ajeedie?” cries Orteza. “What the literal fuck?”

“I just completed our mission,” I state simply.

She half raises her weapon at me, but I read more uncertainty from her than intent to fire, and after a moment she lowers it again.

“Orteza, you can lower your blaster down. We’ve done what we came to do here,” I say firmly. “We fight them – the Slavers - for ourselves now. Let’s get out The Zone make for the launch pads.”

The team are not going to let me go so easily.

“We were here to save her before violation if we could,” protests Illyri, voicing what they’re all probably thinking. “And she hadn’t been violated. Tisya was still a virgin.”

I should keep focused, but I can’t help rising to that.

“Tisya certainly wasn’t a virgin,” I say wryly. “I don’t know what surgery she had to restore her hymen, but she’d had more cocks in there than some professional whores. I’m surprised the Slavers didn’t find out before making her Run. And as for the idea of rescuing her alive, that’s only what you were told. We were never intended to bring Tisya back. I’m sorry – they told you that because The Nine did not trust you with the truth.”

“What truth?” asks Orteza, who has regained her equilibrium already.

“The truth that in fact, Tisya had become a cancer in the brain of the Sect. We were actually sent here by the inner circle to eliminate the Djeneria, so a new, unpolluted leader could be elected.”

“How is that even possible?” moans Diaz. “How can we not have known? She always seemed so… holy.”

“And what would you do, in the place of The Nine, knowing the Djeneria was a slut who’d thrown away her gift years ago? Tell all the followers? Risk the collapse of the whole Sect? No. When Tisya was taken by the Slavers, the chance to send an elimination team was seen as the Gods’ gift to the Djenerion. I would have believed The Nine betrayed her deliberately, if there hadn’t been so many of the Okhoron captured with her.”

Their body language tells me they are calming. Most are pacified by my words. Only Diaz is still under control of her emotions.

“We’ve been tricked,” she wails. “It was all for nothing.”

“No trick - what you did was essential for The Djenerion,” I insist. “And you will all have the gratitude of the Sect. But forget them for now. Our time to serve The Nine is complete. Now we’re allowed to focus on saving ourselves. So Orteza – pull yourself together, and plot us the fastest route out of The Zone away from the danger of the cameras, and then to a Slaver city. We’ll try to hijack a shuttle there.”

It will be a while before she has any trust in my command, but Orteza complies anyway.

“Tak-Aghara,” she says. “On foot, we’ll be there in four hours. Two hours to the edge of The Zone, and two to the settlement.”

The sun is high in the sky and I’m boiling alive, but I reinsert my arms into the bodysuit, as though it’s no more unusual than slipping on a sweater. I’m about to mold it over my face when I stop, and pull the biotech away again.

“Does anyone want to purge before we move? It might be your last chance for a couple of hours.”

“Do we have to do it next to that?” complains Orteza, indicating the remains of the leader.

In spite of the urgency, they can see it makes sense. Everyone is cooking in their suits, so with only a brief delay to switch rooms, we quickly strip, standing all together and revealed as women. Briefly we are one – a circle, with hands joined. Orteza, Diaz, Ko, Illyri, Ak-Mancheen, and the three nude captives, chained at the neck. Karmeena even removes her slave wrap, in a show of solidarity.

We look around at each other. It’s instinctive for women to appraise each other, and inspections are not meant to be predatory. But I’m never allowed to forget that my beauty is the kind considered exceptional. I’m used to the expressions of jealous awe, and I’m used to forcing myself to resist the urge to bashfully cover my privates with my arms. I wish I could relax, but when they watch me, I can’t stop anticipating the future. In a dire scenario where I’m captured before being able to end myself, my body will only make it worse when I’m nude. My nipples have a habit of stiffening when I’m self-conscious, and they’re typically erect now the group is purging - only drawing more of the women’s flickering glances to my full breasts.

It feels like the necessary exposure goes on forever, but there’s barely sufficient time to cool, before we’re forced to resume.

“Incoming,” Orteza warns. “Slaver group. Edge of my range, but moving fast. Coming right for us. They’ll be here in ten minutes.”

This is how the end begins. “Coming right for us”. No coincidence. We’re being hunted. We dress as quickly as we can without descending into panic.

“Can we dress too?” one of them asks, fingering the bloodstained uniform of a corpse. “Unlike you girls, I hate being naked.”

“Not in anything dignified, unfortunately,” I say. “They’ll never let women on a shuttle in Slaver uniforms - you’ll need to look like slaves. So wraps only. There’s a few lying around in this bastard’s camp. We’ll worry about the marks later. But if you can find footwear to cross this rocky terrain it would help. We can ditch the boots before we reach any places where we meet other men.”

A distraction is good from the approaching horrors is good, so I focus on watching the captives cover themselves. They make an odd sight, their sensuous and revealing slave wraps counterpointing the heavy masculine combat boots. As for my team, we anxiously resume the guise of a ragtag band of male ne’er do wells. it would be a better tactic that we run naked, and don the suits at the last moment, but I’m prey to the same weaknesses as the others and don’t suggest the idea. I’d feel too vulnerable fleeing across the surface of Aghara-Penthay as a nude, desirable female.

“Let’s go people,” I say, and seeing so many on the verge of losing their minds to the terror I add. “Don’t give up hope. We might escape this, yet.”

So at a run, we start into the barren wilderness. Speed is currently more important than silence, so I don’t criticize the way that Orteza jingles, and her footfalls are heavy under her burden of kit. We are in more danger than ever, and yet now, there is a better feeling of freedom. I prefer fleeing to hunting for Tisya. We work for ourselves now, only ourselves. Orteza keeps one eye on the scanner so we can avoid threats. Shortly, two life signs cross ahead of our path, but we’re able to dodge them without seeing if they’re human or animal.

Her updates are helpful, but they do remind us of the precariousness of our situation.

“The group is at The Alien’s camp now. Life forms. Men,” she says.

This is to be expected.

“Norenda will have talked,” I gasp, breathless from exertion. “The Slavers will know everything of our mission, and of what we truly are. If we reach their settlements first, we have a chance of losing ourselves among the other Slavers. If they catch up before we get there, we’re doomed, and we must end ourselves.”

“What about the crew on The Hub?” says Ko. “Morine, Beana? We have to try to warn them.”

“They’re on their own now,” I say. “We won’t get a signal out while we’re in The Zone. We have to hope the evac team figure something is wrong before the Slavers find them.”

We resume the journey, our pace getting even faster. Too fast. My head is starting to swim under the burning sun, and it turns out I’m not the one feeling it most. Without warning, Illyri pitches face first into the dust. Reluctantly we expose our skins once again, and pause, bodysuits pushed only down to our thighs to save a little precious time. We hydrate.

We’ve completed three quarters of our journey when the next development occurs.

“They’re coming for us,” Orteza announces in a wavering voice. “The group from the camp is making right for us. High speed. Mounted on boards, or speeders, maybe.”

“Are we going to reach the settlement in time?” I ask.

“It’s going to be very close,” she says.

“Then let’s hurry.”

Everyone but Karmeena starts to jog again. The marked slave is behaving oddly. Instead of rushing with the rest of us, she has paused, and is rubbing her ear, while frowning, as though she’s been swimming and there’s water residue in there. Instinctively, we all slow, and wait. Her eyes seem to glaze, and before we know something serious is wrong it’s already too late. The slave moves towards Orteza in a sudden sprint.

“What’s the matter Karmeena?” Orteza asks, her guard down entirely.

“Karmeena, No! Someone, stop her!” I scream. Perhaps it’s the gift, but I’m the only one who seems to see what’s about to happen. I’m reaching for my blaster, but I’ve left it strapped across my back to make it easier to run - my turn to make a critical error. By the time I have my weapon ready, I can already see it will be over.

Karmeena snatches the pad from Orteza with one hand, and a grenade from Orteza’s belt with the other. Orteza, still too slow to realize we’ve just lost control of the implanted female, reflexively tries to hold onto the pad, the tracker still connected to it, but she doesn’t grip strongly enough to prevent Karmeena wrenching it away. The slave woman spins on her heel with the grace of a dancer, and as if in slow motion, I see the grenade pin begin its rolling fall to the ground.

Karmeena bounds away from my team, and towards the other captives. Move, bitches! I’m trying to scream. She can only hurt women, and even our suits are enough deterrent. But inert, they remain together, huddled and useless just as they were when we first saw them on The Hub. During the tussle I’ve have time to bring my blaster to bear, but if I shoot Karmeena now, the grenade will only drop when she’s nearer my own team. So I turn to protect myself from the blast, bellow “dive!” to anyone who’s listening, and sprawl in the dirt just as she leaps into the circle of women.

The detonation is thunderous. Dense grey smoke instantly obscures everything, and dust and unthinkable forms of matter rains down on us. My ears are ringing, and I can barely see through the abrasive mass of dust and grit. But already my brain is resuming processing, telling me I’m alive, and I’ve sustained no serious harm. Moments later I can begin making out the shadowy forms of the rest of my time. Orteza, who was closest to the blast, is on her back. Flaps of skin from her damaged bodysuit hang from her face, but the artificial skin seems to have helped protect her from more serious harm. Her eyes are open and she’s moving, trying to get to her feet.

When the dust clears enough to fully take in the blast site, the scene revealed is carnage. Of the slave women we rescued, the only trace remaining to evidence our mercy to them is one boot, still upright and holding the bloody stump of a female lower leg like it’s a vase presenting a rose. When Diaz sees it, she turns to vomit on the ground, and even Ko the medic looks ill.

“We need to keep running,” I urge my team as Ak-Mancheen and Ko help Orteza up. “We can’t wait to mourn. They probably heard the explosion on the other side of The Zone. Every Slaver in twenty miles will be on his way here now.”

“We’re gonna get caught,” Illyri is wailing. “They’re gonna rape us.”

She’s just standing there, inert. I want to slap her, but I try to sound calm.

“Not necessarily,” I counter, grinding my teeth. “More men in The Zone means more chance to blend in. But not if we’re found red-handed at ground zero. So pull yourselves together. We need to move.”

We have no pad left to us for detecting life-signs and warning us of approaching Slavers, so unfortunately the six survivors are now forced to progress cautiously, moving from cover to cover.

It’s getting difficult to keep the group under control. Diaz is moaning, “Karmeena, Karmeena,” over and over, until Ak-Mancheen says “shut the fuck up.” There were brief moments where we felt united, but camaraderie has begun disintegrating in the rising storm of fear overcoming each woman.

“But Karmeena was a human being,” whines Diaz. “I was speaking to her. And then she was nothing but that … that stump.”

“You said you’d rather die than be a slave,” Ko says cattily. “Still feeling that way?”

Apart from myself, Orteza seems to have retained the most level head.

“How did they manage to get her to do that?” Orteza says. Her voice sounds hoarse – dust inhaled from the explosion. Flap of her damaged bodysuit still hang down, and I can see stripes of her real flesh revealed in the openings. The suit is almost useless, but she’s still unwilling to expose herself entirely.

“Some kind of nano-drone. Like the ones they use for the cameras, only with a speaker. Norenda must have told the Slavers we had an implanted woman. They tracked her down.”

“They’re watching us? Now?” moans Diaz, her fear ramping back up.

“We should make sure they’re not. How many EMPs do we have left?” I ask Orteza.

“Two,” she answers.

“Fire one now,” I order. “Take out any cameras nearby.”

Like last time, there’s a click on the EMP bomb and nothing. We don’t even know if it was working. But now they’re onto us, it won’t keep cameras away for long. I gave the order more to calm Diaz, who is staring round with wide eyed paranoia.

“I thought implanted slaves couldn’t kill themselves,” complains Illyri as we resume.

“Not from their own free will,” answers Orteza. “But if they’re ordered by a man, they’ll do anything they’re asked.”

“But we look and sound like men. She could have stayed with us.”

I answer this time.

“Like I keep saying: there has to be a primary owner who can override others. Otherwise, men could just endlessly contradict each other. When contradictions happen too much, it triggers a kind-of mental collapse in the implant victim. Karmeena knew the Slavers were her primary owners, and not us.”

“It’s supposed to be impossible for an implanted slave to harm males as well,” argues Illyri.

“And she didn’t,” I say. “She pulled the pin and only took out the ones she could comprehend as women. Now stop talking and hurry up.”

And praise the Gods, just for a short while, she does.

8 - Donaya

People sometimes imagine the vast crater that makes up The Zone as being uniform in its geography. This is not the case. Some areas are pancake-flat ground, with almost no cover. There is a region being reclaimed by the desert, entirely comprising sand dunes. Large areas have barren hills, with cliffs, canyons, rocky slopes, and caves offering almost infinite cover.

The crater rim also has its variations. While much of it runs at a level height, a high peak straddles the rim at one point, and at the opposite side of the vast circle, is a region where the crater sides are missing entirely. With the gap providing the easiest logistical access to The Zone, it is here that the Slaver settlements begin.

Our pursuers will be expecting us to make straight for our only possible escape - through the settlements, so I have my team approach the destination in an elliptical path – longer, but safer. The route we follow takes us over a landscape like rumpled cloth, offering us plenty of hiding places, but making it difficult to see far. We must constantly send scouts to climb the slopes, and this means our progress is slowed further. Now we’re blind to approaching danger, we’re all nervous. I keep fingering the trigger of my blaster, visualizing a moment where men ambush us, and when I’ll have to point the barrel up into my skull and shoot.

It feels as though those Slaver troops are about to swarm over each rise at any moment, so I have to be ready to take the final steps. I can’t shake the sense of being watched – a prickling between the shoulder blades. But with no alternative but to proceed, we do so, and we seem to continue without further sign of life, until we reach a place where the broken ground abruptly ends and from our reconnaissance point among some fractured rocks we can finally see right to the edge of The Zone.

Through my binoculars I see a giant stone fortress, the ancient nature of the building a contrast to the high-tech equipment on its flat roof. At its top I see a shuttle lifting off, and I see it turning to show the unmistakable magnesium white burn of a gravity drive. My view across to the place of salvation shimmers with the heat. Smaller buildings cluster around the fortress. Slaver men mill around the base, where a large crawler is being loaded with a trailer of supplies. Concealment among them, escape maybe, it’s all just there in our sights. But between the fortress and our hiding place there is nothing. We must choose between crossing a full mile of open ground with no possibility of hiding ourselves, or trekking along the edge of the rocks until we reach the crater rim – easily half a day’s hike.

“Getting across there won’t be fun,” I say with distaste. “And we’re overdue purging. It’s going to be torture in this heat. Maybe we should find a cave. Undress and wait for sunset, and attempt it in the dark.”

“What about the ones following us?” complains Diaz. “It’s been too long without a sign of pursuit. They could be right on our tails.”

As though on cue, Diaz’s questioning is abruptly cut by a woman’s scream, loud, and coming from somewhere close enough that it makes me jump. I turn back to the vista across the flat plane in time to see a woman emerge from a canyon, only a hundred yards to my right. She is dressed in this year’s Rape Run costume – a glossy black catsuit, an outfit revealing for being so figure hugging, but yet concealing the skin from the ankle to the throat. High-heeled boots are made of matching material. In spite of the impracticality of moving on her stilettos, the Rape Runner, whom I know as Donaya Oshanka, is desperate enough that she tries to sprint in them across the open ground.

And right behind her, on a vehicle like a chariot which hovers a foot above the ground, follows one of the two most important surviving men on Aghara-Penthay, and the one I loathe above all. The faction leader Salarin. I’m filled with a hate so visceral I can taste it. There is Salarin, Salarin the torturer. Salarin the sadist. Salarin the rapist. Responsible for the barbaric fate of two of the most significant women in my life.

How many lives has he ruined? Donaya, the one seemingly destined as his next victim, is terrified, but that only makes the torturer enjoy himself more. The two other men riding with him on the chariot are joking with him. Members of his hunting retinue, probably. Salarin laughs. Close on the heels of the chariot two more of his men emerge from the canyon riding individual hover boards, and they fan out either side of the woman.

She screams again.

My heart wrenches with pity. She is lost now, and there is no chance for her even if she reaches cover, but she flees anyway, driven by animal instinct. The Hunter rides just behind her, following at a couple of yards distance. He could overtake her easily, but he chooses to prolong the moment of her capture. Salarin lets her continue to run while he readies a device unknown to me – a bundle of bright red cables dangling from a center connection like they’re the legs of some large spider. When he’s satisfied, he pitches this towards the ankles of the fleeing woman. Her legs are bound so fast I don’t see it, but I hear her shriek. I only see her go face first into the dirt, with her legs pinned tightly together by the winding coils of red.

Salarin stops and dismounts. His pace is leisurely.

Donaya Oshanka is one of the two most famous female news anchors in the galaxy. The other, Suseya Nirolara – a little younger, with a larger chest and a naturally sultry, more pouting expression, is perhaps even more in demand as a Rape Runner, but has been luckier in avoiding capture. A common witticism among the galaxy’s men is they want the steady Donaya for their wife and the fiery Suseya for their mistress. Given the two are being constantly compared, one would expect the women to be professional rivals, and the media try to create stories of a feud, but the more factual reports say they’re friends, maybe even intimate ones.

Aware that Donaya’s beauty is the key to her professional success, she’s not been afraid to use her assets to her advantage. The galactic data feeds have abounded with montages of her best lowest-cut tops, and modeling images of lingerie and swimwear. In her news anchor work, she manages just to avoid being overly revealing, and outside of her public persona she lives quietly. I believe she was married, but unless her husband is wealthy enough to buy a failed Rape Runner in the auction, he will now be in her past. Donaya is brunette, wearing her dark hair in long loose curls. Curls which are concealing the slave mark that every Rape Runner has branded on her face.

Two of Salarin’s men have Donaya back on her feet, each holding one of her arms. Her legs are still restrained though, pinned together at the ankle by the spider. She is struggling, but resistance doesn’t stop the Chief pulling down the zipper from her throat to navel, and casually pushing apart her suit. During my time training as a Djenerion acolyte I’ve seen my share of naked women, and she is exquisite. That will only make things worse for her. Salarin seems to appreciate what he can see too. With her chest exposed, he lazily tugs at her nipples, watching her response. Meanwhile, in spite of her resistance, his men strip the suit the rest of the way down off her body. The restraining device releases her ankles instantly, once they need to bare her shins. Naked, we see Donaya’s hips are rounded and feminine, and she has no hair to hide her sex – again the result of the treatment all Runners receive before the competition. Once she’s been stripped entirely nude, Salarin permits all of his men to grope her, roughly and intimately. We can hear their cruel laughter from our hiding place.

I’m half expecting to see the stark-naked Donaya violated there in the dust in front me. But that is not the nature of the Sadist. He likes torment before pleasure. So his men first force her arms into binders, locking her wrists together behind her back, and once she’s secured, they step back. Donaya is left her standing, her bound wrists preventing her concealing herself. We can see her, from head to toe. Salarin sends one of his retinue to the chariot, and from its back he unreels three fine cables. The free ends of these he walks with across to Donaya. His men close in on her again, blocking our view.

“What are they going to do to her?” Illyri whispers, horrified.

I have no answer, but somehow, when the men move away and we can see again, two of those cables remain, each attached to one of Donaya’s nipples. She’s saying something to them, begging desperately, and I catch flashes of her pleading tone carried on the hot breeze.

I don’t know the mechanism by which they then attach the final cable to her womanhood either – clamped, or perhaps even inserted, but it can’t be pleasant, for we can hear the cry of discomfort, and we see her double over with pain. And with that, they just walk away. I watch the men return to their vehicles, leaving Donaya with her arms behind her, looking down in helpless bewilderment at the accessories fixed to her naked body. If her hands were free, it might be trivial to release her organs, but her hands are not free.

“No!” several of us cry out in sympathy as Salarin’s chariot begins to move and we understand the men’s intent. When the lines first go taut, Donaya’s breasts are stretched out at such an unnatural angle I fear they’re going to be torn from her body. She’s jerked forwarded by her chest and she goes sprawling into the dirt, unable to break her fall while wearing those binders. The chariot stops and again I hear the men laughing uproariously. Oh yes, hilarious.

Donaya gets gingerly to her knees, and then her feet. Her front is scratched with dirt and filth already.

Knowing what’s coming, this time she’s already running after her captor as the chariot pulls away. Therefore the tension comes less suddenly, and she remains on her feet, although her legs kick wildly under the effort of making such unnatural speed. “Run!” “Run!” I can hear the men urging.

And thus it goes on. Under the burning sun of Aghara-Penthay, those clamped towlines force Donaya to run naked for their entertainment, the woman desperately trying to keep up behind Salarin’s chariot. He changes pace frequently, and weaves in circles and figures of eight, to make it harder for her to keep on her feet. Each time she goes down, there’s a burst of that sick laughter, the chariot stops, and she’s ordered back up. Before ten minutes have elapsed, she glistens with a sheen of sweat, and her sides are covered in scratches from the gravel.

While they’re abusing her, the sound builds of more vehicles approaching. We crouch lower in our vantage point as a large speeder emerges from the same canyon where Donaya was concealed. The numbers in the second group have doubled since our earlier encounter, more than twenty now, but there’s no mistaking the Slaver uniforms with the badge of Lotho-Etsarra’s faction. It’s the same men we saw holding Norenda. These are the ones who hunt for us, instead of for Runners.

The sand is no longer being blown around, so they’ve removed their headscarves. I give only a passing scan on the faces – one Slaver is like another, all made ugly by cruelty. Until I reach the leader. Riding in the command position is that same gangly man whom I saw with Norenda, but I can see a distinctive mop of blond hair now. His face is hard, cruel like all the Slavers. I would not like to find myself at his mercy. Unlike the usual slaver hunting retinues, the blond man’s troops are heavily armed. They’re not here for the forthcoming gang rape of Donaya then. My belly knots with fear.

Salarin’s chariot comes to a halt. Donaya slumps immediately to her knees, breasts rising and falling as her bare torso heaving with exertion. Blond man leaps out and approaches the leader, barely glancing at the Runner, and he confers with the faction chief. He moves with a slow loping walk. His expression shows open dislike for Salarin. I’m not sure why, but I find myself wondering how many women the blond man has raped. Blond Slaver spends a full minute explaining something, then confirming the worst, gestures in the rough direction of the rocks where we’re hidden.

There are times I feel particularly conscious that I am a woman. Now is another one of those. Inside my bodysuit I am reminded that I have breasts, I am reminded I have a body that men find desirable, and I am particularly reminded I have an opening between my legs instead of a penis, an opening that on this world, dooms me to the status of a sex slave. I clutch my blaster – the best substitute for a phallus. I repeat my vow - they’ll not take me alive. They’ll not. What’s happened to Donaya will not happen to me. It should not be allowed to happen to any woman. And there in front of me is Salarin, a catalyst for so many women’s suffering, and the blond man, who hunts us.

“We could shoot him,” I say abruptly to Orteza. “The cruelest of them all. It would doom us, but we’d be doing the women of the galaxy one giant favor.”

I mean Salarin, of course, but where there is one shot, there could be more. The blond.

“Please don’t, I don’t want to be a martyr,” Ko admits to me, shamefaced. “Not here. I want to try and escape, while there’s a chance.”

The others murmur assent.

“You all know, there might never be another chance like this for a woman to take Salarin out of the picture,” I caution. “We can make a stand for females across the universe.”

“Kill him, and another will just rise to the top,” says Orteza. “As long as there are men who can hold power over women, there will be sadists.”

I might be willing to accept martyrdom today, but my team, tired and overheating, don’t have enough fight left to sacrifice themselves. And since the incident with Tisya, Orteza has been watching me carefully. She already has her blaster part-towards me. If I try to snap a quick shot, she’ll deflect it again, and we could give our location away for nothing. For now, the men have to live.

“Then as soon as it’s safe, we’ll make a break for those settlements. If anyone is desperate to purge, we can take a few minutes.”

But no-one takes me up on that. No one wants to again feel the vulnerability of being a nude female on Aghara-Penthay, not when we’re so close to danger. It was bad enough when we’d first arrived. We’d rather faint from the heat now than show ourselves.

In front of us on the plain, Salarin and the blond man complete their discussion. Salarin’s vehicle begins to move in a stately pace towards the center of The Zone. Donaya scrambles back to her feet, and resumes jogging just in time to prevent the lines to her organs going taut. With her arms behind her, her only option is to run behind her captor towards the place where her rape will take place, and be broadcast to the galaxy.

The tall blond man watches until they’re out of our sight, his expression angry. I gather he did not like the outcome of the conversation. Again he gestures to the rocks, irritated, but in a direction that’s thankfully further to the right than our hiding place. On foot, his men fan out, heading that way. They have weapons ready. We are being hunted.

“It will take them a while to properly search in that terrain and find we’re not there,” I say firmly. “So we give them just enough time to get out of sight. Then we make for the settlement. I think it’s now or never. Everyone agree?”

Each woman nods. For once, we are in unison. A team. I look around at my group – seemingly the shortest, ugliest, bunch of men who ever walked the universe, and can almost feel some kinship. But I also think about how this could be the moment we’re together and at peace for the last time, and the poor decisions of these women are to blame for that.

“Let’s move,” I command, and feeling exposed almost like we’re missing our suits, we walk out onto the open plane.

9 - Swarm

“Stop and hydrate!” I order my team.

Forced by me to pause, male faces frown at me, as sulky as children.

All this way across the dry open ground I’ve been holding them back – don’t rush when you’ll only overheat, don’t rush, and keep stopping to drink. But with the tension racked so high, each time we resume, the speed march gradually accelerates, and eventually I have to force another halt. We must keep a reserve of endurance so we can run, if the worst happens.

At three quarters of the way across, the sudden blaring noise of a Slaver broadcast almost gives me a heart attack. We’re all imagining possible nightmare futures, and we don’t need another reminder what awaits if we’re caught alive, but we’re to have one anyway. There is Donaya, Donaya who we just saw captured, resting back naked and spread-eagled on a giant adhesive web, while Salarin rapes her. He wears some kind of metallic sheath over his erect penis. The web she’s stuck against must conduct electricity, for each time he thrusts into her, Donaya’s body goes so rigid that her screams change to strangled gurgles. On top of all the other suffering a woman endures during violation, Salarin has made the act of rape itself a form of torture. I should have killed him while I had the chance.

“Don’t look at the screen,” I order my team. Their emotions are fragile enough with this.

The Slavers must be hunting us, watching us even, but we make it most of the way across the open ground before there’s a sign of pursuit.

“Ajeedie!” says Ak-Mancheen, pointing back towards the middle of The Zone. Once again there is the unmistakable cloud of dust kicked up by fast-moving speeders. I raise my binoculars, and the quantum optics bring them so close it’s like they’re as near me as Orteza.

Slavers.

Him again. That same tall blond guy stands in the leader’s position at the front. He also is looking through binoculars, and looking right at me. I see his mouth crease into a smile of greeting. He can’t know anything about me, other than I’m a female in a body suit. And yet the smile chills me. It feels personal.

“Run!” I order my team, turning away with my heart in my mouth. “Now it’s time to run for the buildings. They’ll be on us in minutes.”

Sacrificing concerns for the risks from the heat, we begin to sprint for the settlement. Salvation sits just ahead, but on top of a plateau, raised perhaps a hundred feet above the rest of the plane. The final phase of the journey will take us up a steep slope of scree that will be particularly taxing on our bodies. We must hurry up there, though. Fainting is a risk worth taking compared to the alternatives. So we run. Ko and Illyri start to blubber tears. It looks odd seeing grown men cry.

“Pull yourselves together, or I’ll shoot you right here,” I snap at them. “Look: that building up there. It’s in use. There are lights from their tech. We can get into the corridors and lose them.”

The very nearest building to us is an isolated structure, offering no onward escape route, but a little further away, where I’m indicating, is an offshoot of the larger settlement – clustered buildings sprouting out of the crater cliffs like a fungus. They’re linked by stone corridors – a network of building, corridor, building, corridor, reminding me of the models of molecules from my school days. The passages go all the way back to the main structures with the launch pads. Make it there, and we have a chance.

My words “Pull yourself together” were probably the last command I’ll give them as a team. Panic is almost total now. Our pursuers are only five hundred yards away. I brandish my blaster. I release the safety. He will not take me alive. Probably, I only have minutes left to live.

“The Gods blessings be on you all,” I say, more gently. That is my goodbye.

We scramble up the rocky slope towards the entrance. The loose scree makes it slippery, and we all backslide to various extents, tortured by seeing our destination get nearer then further from us, over and over. With each woman acting for herself now, we end up spreading out into a line, Orteza at the front climbing most successfully, able to spend more stamina in her damaged suit, then myself, and Illyri doing well at first, then sinking almost all the way down to the bottom with a desperate scream.

I look back and see the Slavers are a hundred yards from the base of the slope. It’s too late for Illyri now. She’d requested slavery over death, but her cry was so pitiful I decide I should end her anyway, once I reach the buildings. But I must save myself first. I turn back to climbing. Orteza has reached the flat platform of rock at the building entrance.

“The others – shoot them,” I gasp up to her. “They’re not gonna make it. It would be a mercy.”

But Orteza isn’t listening to me. She’s busy looking out over the plain, her gaze fixed on something else. Breathless from effort, I too reach the flat rock plateau, and turn to see what has her attention even during this crisis. Our pursuers have dismounted at the bottom of the slope, but even though Illyri has resumed, and is once again halfway up the climb, they’re no longer following. The blond man is just watching us, hands on his hips as though he’s a foreman supervising a task. What is he waiting for?

“Ajeedie – what’s that?” Orteza says, and then I see where she’s been staring.

It looks like a cloud of smoke, except clouds don’t usually undulate their shape, and move contrary to the hot wind on the planet surface.

“Insects?”

The cloud is coming in our direction. As the darkness gets closer, tendrils begin to extend from it, like fingers reaching from a glove. Fingers pointing to…

I can usually keep my head in combat, but still the fear almost overwhelms me.

“We got incoming…” I bellow.

I turn to the building and start to run. Its high arched entrance forms a space like a cave. The archway is stacked with crates of supplies, and at the back of it is a heavy blast door with a porthole window. It waits invitingly open, offering safety from the cloud.

“Guard that door,” I call to Orteza. “Cover me.”

There is enough time before it reaches us to show mercy to the others. I turn back to the slope, shouldering my weapon.

Illyri is at the back, forty yards down the slope, and the cloud reaches her first. I see her engulfed by something, something bad enough that immediately she forgets running, and only thinks of flailing wildly. I fire my blaster directly at her, but the beam scatters in the dense swarm cloud. In spite of my shot being on target, I see Illyri is left untouched, but now moving sluggishly, as though she’s burdened with carrying an enormous weight.

By this time, Ko and Ak-Mancheen have been claimed by this mysterious hell. As I watch, Diaz too is consumed by the swarm. I will be next. A tendril of the smoke is making for me. It will be on me in seconds. Abandoning those behind me, I turn and bolt for the door. I’m under the arched roof of the entrance - nearly at safety. Ten yards, five yards. I don’t need to see from the growing horror in Orteza’s expression that the mystery plague is right behind me - I can hear the sound of thousands of tiny wings. But I’m gonna make this.

Orteza’s mouth, visible through the damaged suit, opens in a silent scream. I see panic fill her expression. And then, when I’m only three feet away from her, stretching my hand so she can pull me inside, she cracks completely and slams the door shut.

“No!” I bellow, crashing against the metal with the force of my momentum. I have enough time to see her anguished face backing away from the small porthole of glass, and then I’m engulfed by the cloud.

Instantly, the insects are all over me. I’m expecting to be stung, or perhaps bitten, but for the first seconds of the attack they simply land on me. One, then two, then five, then twenty, a hundred, a thousand. Close up they look like no creature I’ve ever seen – a disc, with regular serrated limbs, much like a throwing star of the ancients, except it’s a disc with two paper thin wings on the top. No mouthparts, no eyes, nothing to indicate front or back. Each individual is almost weightless, but the compounding of so many makes my arms and legs start to feel like I’m swimming in thick soup.

I’m flailing as Illyri did and trying to brush them off me when I begin to discover the purpose of the insects’ limbs. The creatures aren’t falling away from me as they ought, but they stay in position by locking to each other. The serrations are hooked together, forming the creatures into a covering of mesh. My arm happens to touch my flank as I try to sweep the insects away, but rather than continue its natural movement, my arm remains attached to me, as though my sides were coated in glue.

I strain, but I can no longer move that arm away. It’s locked to me as tight as if I were wearing a binder. Realizing the danger now, I keep my other free arm as far away from me as possible. Even in my terror I can reason that the creatures must need contact with their neighbors in order to lock those hooks.

Still trying to flee in any direction, I wade forwards, with my legs spread wide to inhibit the connections, but at the apex of my limbs where my legs are closest together, the creatures are still able to make limited contact with each other. I feel myself becoming more and more restricted.

Slower and slower I advance, until finally, I have to give up. That’s it. It’s time. This is the end, for me. I reach for the blaster, intending to point it at my head, then pull the trigger. Only to find my blaster, which was hanging by a shoulder strap, is now stuck to my side by a thick layer of the creatures, as though it’s secured in a tight-fitting holster. I realize I’ll never move it into the right place. No, no, no! Please, no! I can’t be taken alive. Trying anything to avoid the horror of what’s ahead, I stumble on once again, fleeing only on animal instinct.

I might have had a chance of continuing to progress further, if it wasn’t for my face. A wave of the swarm descends over my eyes, and I can’t brush them away, not without risking sticking my palm to my forehead. Blind, I’m already doomed, but rather than give in I stumble on anyway, until I trip over one of the scattered crates and crash to the floor.

I’m falling. I land with my ankles together, and when I next try to move my legs to resume my escape, I can’t. My lower body is bound as tightly as if my legs have been mummified with steel cable.

One free arm is all I have left. And it’s an arm that’s getting heavier and heavier. The swarm must be continuing to pile onto me, layer upon layer.

My blaster is useless to me, but I still have one of those grenades at my belt. Reaching for it will mean letting my free arm become irrevocably glued to my sides, but I might retain enough movement to release the pin. I commit, reaching down, and feel my arm bind to my side like a magnet. I fumble for the grenade and… it’s not there. Gods, no, it was there, where did the grenade go?

I probe with my fingers, but feel them freeze almost instantly, as my shell of insects engulfs even them. And then, after keeping my wits for so much of the mission, panic finally claims me. I surrender myself to the screaming and writhing, but with my limbs squashed against me like I’m a shrink-wrapped piece of meat, the struggling accomplishes nothing. Even my shrieks of horror are smothered by the swarm covering my mouth. Gods no! Let me die, please just give me enough movement to find the fallen grenade and end it. If there was ever any truth to the Sect, if there was ever any Gods, grant me the mercy of ending myself. Please no, not a sex slave…

It feels like I struggle into exhaustion before anything else happens. It’s possible that while I do this, there are men surrounding me, enjoying watching my terrified movements, but my hearing is muffled by the creatures, so I know not. Blind, and utterly immobile in my cocoon of insects, there’s eventually nothing to do but wait for what’s inevitable, so when the heat and fatigue become too much I go limp, feeling faint from exertion, fear and the baking atmosphere of Aghara-Penthay.

(“A Rape Run grade piece of tail, you are.” his voice reminds me)

Since I left girlhood men have always looked at me with hunger, so I am unlikely to be put immediately to death for my crimes against the Slavers. No, not before they’ve had their fun. I can’t bear contemplating how it’s going to feel when they rape me - thinking of literally anything else would be better. So I latch on prayer, focusing on the words for the first time for many years. But as always, my gods choose not to respond.

10 - Caught

The swarm are gone, releasing in an instant at his command, but still I am restrained.

I stand on a floor, with my arms raised and extended, so my body forms a shape much like a capital letter “Y”. I do not hold myself in this position by choice. My wrists have been locked into alloy bracelets, which are chained to a triangular structure of metal bars just above me, so I look as though I’m lifting a giant coat hanger above my head.

A thick cable extends from the apex of this triangle to a large metal pully in the ceiling, and thence down to the winch, far beyond my reach, which they used to crank me onto my feet. Tighten it further, and the metalwork would lift me higher, so I’d be suspended by my wrists.

My legs, they have left completely free, because now I’m trapped the men can safely do that. I’m not going anywhere with locked wrists. The only movements available to me are stepping from side to side in a futile effort to ease the strain of my position, or crossing one leg over the other in a useless attempt to protect my groin.

Deliberately, they leave us all time to contemplate what lies ahead. And I can’t help but do that. I think once again about how I am a woman. I think how I am fit and strong for my sex, but the toned muscles in my thighs are not going to be strong enough to keep my legs closed and prevent them raping me. Anticipation makes me breathe harder, and inside my suit I’m even slicker with sweat. I can feel it running down my spine to pool in the cleft between my buttocks.

The room contains ten sets of the winch apparatus. There is no other furnishing in here save a few chairs for an audience, and a couple of metal boxes with breathing holes – just large enough to fit a hunched-up captive inside. It seems we are in a place purposed only to inflict suffering, suffering dispensed after using the winches. Around me my poor comrades in arms have been similarly secured into bondage. We’re positioned in a circle – able to face one another, and observe each other, no doubt to make the experience more frightening. I could look at them, but most of the time I stare at the floor in defeat. I cannot bear seeing the terrified faces of my team.

It is late afternoon. Only hours ago, we had hope. We were free. Now we are contemplating a future of unending horror.

Ko, Diaz. Ak-Mancheen. Illyri, or at least their male guises, dressed in Slaver faction overalls, and the two who waited on The Hub, with plans to steal a shuttle and rescue us – Beana and Morine. Orteza is the only one they don’t have yet. Where is Orteza? She can’t have got that much further after betraying me to capture.

But no Orteza. I can see all my other brave girls facing into the circle, but not her. All of us captives of Aghara-Penthay. All defeated. All lost forevermore. If they execute us immediately as punishment for the destruction we inflicted, it will be a mercy. But the Slavers are not known for being merciful with women, and by now they certainly know that under these layers we are women. No. What is coming will be sexual, degrading, painful, and we’ll beg and we’ll pray for death, but we’ll only be granted it when they tire of other forms of abuse.

Luck was never on our side, but the chief reason for our defeat is here. Norenda. I can’t keep from glancing at her and seeing my future - Norenda who was once a brave soldier, now standing in a slave wrap, all but naked, with her face bearing the mark she will carry for life – that of a female captured by Aghara-Penthay. All who see it know that Slavers have implanted her and broken her will. Once the chip was in, she would have answered every question they asked about us, and our mission. She will always be a slave to men now, beyond any salvation.

Eight women - Ko, Diaz. Ak-Mancheen. Illyri, Beana, Morine, Norenda, Ajeedie. Perhaps twenty-four men. Ko and Illyri are already crying openly in anticipation of what’s ahead. My team are no doubt doing the math, as I am. How many of them will I have to accommodate? Is it wrong to hope they prefer the others? Maybe, but we are all prey to the same terrors. The other women will be hoping I am the favorite.

“Be brave - what lies ahead will be terrible, but hope is not lost until the Gods end us, my greatest friends,” Diaz tells us.

I scowl at her stupidity. One of the inhumanities of implantation is that at a male word, every female can be turned into a rival, an enemy even. It is dangerous to declare friendships when a command to an implant sets your most intimate supporter immediately against you. The Slavers delight in having friend abuse friend. It arouses them. The sight of male against male is not erotic. They only enjoy seeing women cause their closest to suffer. Being born female is nothing but a curse.

To avoid showing my turbulent emotions, I stare at the floor again. What torture awaits underneath? I’m standing on a thick metal disk, like a utility hatch, only eight feet in diameter and designed to slide apart down the center, so we can be lowered into… what?

“Cunts,” says the gangly blond man, the one responsible for our capture. The whole of his team hunted us, but I still feel it is down to this man. He looks at us with satisfaction. “Yes, that’s right. Cunts. We know what you are. Your plan was clever. Faking an inter-factional dispute that got blown out of proportion – not an uncommon occurrence on Aghara-Penthay, creating chaos to allow you to reach the leader of your Sect. We suspected nothing until catching this piece,” and he indicates Norenda. “After that, it was over. You were lucky to reach Tisya before we intercepted you. We didn’t appreciate the slave’s significance at first – if we’d implanted her earlier, your leader and the alien would be alive. But once that chip went in, you were doomed.”

I frown. I knew I should have killed Norenda. Damn Orteza for ruining my shot.

The blond guy has most of his men in regular troop uniform, but it’s the civilian tagging along – the Slaver medic, who terrifies me. I keep looking to his plain black case, wondering if there’s an implanter gun waiting in there.

Blond-man pauses, to glare around our circle. His grim mood adds to my fear. I know Slavers. They should already be in entertainment mode now we’re caught – enjoying our terror, our anticipation, taking pleasure in their complete victory and power over us – their sex slaves. But although there is currently some sort of a contest among the rank and file to predict which one of will be the prettiest, all it feels like forced jollity.

The blond leader addresses us all, giving a partial explanation.

“He was my best friend – Lotho-Etsarra,” he says suddenly. “He turned my life around. I was something of a space bum, before I came here and discovered my purpose. We all looked to him as a leader.”

“Aye!” a few of the men chip in.

“We had a good leader, until your team wiped him out, slaughtered him, and many fine men with him. Just to try and prevent one woman having to open her legs. The punishment you receive for this will be terrible. You are to be handed over to Aghara-Penthay’s rulers and made into examples horrific enough to deter the galaxy.” His laugh is bitter. “The Slaver justice which awaits you will strike terror into every cunt in the galaxy. But our rulers will only have you once we’re done with you.”

“Aye!” more of the men agree.

I hate that vulgar word – cunt. But it’s what Slavers call free females – the generic label for every single woman who isn’t a slave.

“That’s right. You cunts butchered our friend, our leader, and for that you must first bear the brunt of our personal wrath. We risked defying orders to bring you here, instead of delivering you straight to Slaver justice.”

He stamps a boot down on one of the metal discs, and I hear the ring of a hollow space underneath. What is down there?

“You’ll all be expecting to be stripped and raped? Yes, my men are certainly going to take our vengeance on you first, but that’s only part of your fate for the next few hours...”

The laugh that goes round then – the sheer cruelty in it – chills me to the bone. I’m not the only one horrified by it. A dark bloom is spreading from the groin of Ko’s Slaver uniform. She’s wet herself from fright.

“Charax, look, you’re scaring the slits,” of the underlings laughs coldly.

Slits – another disgusting label.

But thus I learn the name of he who captured me. “Charax”. I sound it over and over in my head as though it might offer some clue as to his nature.

I am the prisoner of Charax. A man named Charax has complete power over my life. Contemplating what it means to be Charax’ captive, I force myself to be still, and I stare down at the floor, where in front of me I can see my booted feet on the metal disc. If he wishes, Charax is going to rape me, but I entirely believe him when he says that won’t be the worst of it.

Please Gods no, if there’s any truth or kindness to you, spare me whatever horror Charax is planning, let alone our final punishment, once their leaders have us. I failed to end myself before capture, so inevitably they’re about to strip, rape, and process me, like any woman taken by this world. But later there’s something even worse ahead, and that prospect makes me shake with fright. Most of the universe’s women will be delighted that someone executed Lotho-Etsarra, but those sentiments aren’t shared by a fair proportion of the galactic male population, and not the men here on Aghara-Penthay. The Slavers risk losing face in the eyes of the galaxy, and when one relies on rule by terror, a loss of face is unforgivable.

“When will you cunts need to purge? Is that what you call it?” Charax asks, almost as though he’s concerned for us. “I don’t want you collapsing too soon”.

No-one answers him. We’re all long overdue and we’re soaking inside the false skins, but we will all tolerate the discomfort of boiling in the suits rather than willingly expose ourselves. If I die from heatstroke, it would be the best outcome of my day.

“Very well. You can sweat,” Charax says coldly. “Perhaps you’d like to hear about the chaos you’ve caused to my home, while you’re warming up. Cronorgan and Salarin are currently out there trying to take advantage of the situation and absorb the leaderless Slaver groups, but many refuse to serve them, and some seek to become new leaders. There is a state close to civil war around us as contenders make their move, over the Alien’s group, for example. The factions of Cronorgan and Salarin have been forced to lock down, and are guarding their assets while the others fight it out. Matters are so serious that The Rape Run has had to be stopped, until order is restored. This is the first time for seventy years the event has been completely halted. In comparison to such political disturbance, it seems a minor issue that your raid also cost Aghara-Penthay a valuable Rape Runner – the bidding on Tisya had been competitive. And yet, merely damaging some merchandise would have already been enough to earn you dire consequences.”

There’s nothing any of us can reply to this, so no-one speaks. More of my women have started crying. The sound of fake male voices blubbering is irritating, but I can’t tell them to stop. They’re beyond my orders now. I try to drag my wrists through the tight alloy bracelets. I can’t seem to keep still, and I must keep twisting and testing my bonds. I am terribly uncomfortable, roasting alive. There’s so much sweat dripping inside my suit it feels like being under a shower. But still I struggle.

Charax studies us for a moment, but then abruptly turns to Norenda.

“Tell me, you - which one of these cunts was your leader?”

I look up as compelled by her implant, Norenda indicates me.

“Then she will be raped first, while the rest of you watch what’s ahead,” Charax informs the circle. “Now tell me, slave, which female do you think men would find most desirable in your group?”

Norenda probably likes me least of the group, but she is implanted and must answer honestly. My heart is already sinking as she indicates me again.

“The same? Convenient. It brings a little more satisfaction to the example she will provide to the rest of you,” states Charax, and he crosses to stand before me. He’s taller than me, and I have to look up to see his face. Intimidated, I drop my gaze, and end up looking at his groin. His uniform is loose about his thin frame, and I cannot tell if he is already aroused. But I’m sure Charax has a penis. He’s lucky – his genitals mean he’s not an automatic slave on this world.

I’m still tensing in my restraints as though trying to shrink away to nothingness, heart beating insanely fast, but nothing helps. And it is thus, inevitably, the time comes when the ordeal we’ve feared begins.

“What is your name, slit?” Charax asks me.

“Ajeedie,” I answer after a pause, trying to keep my voice steady. There’s no point lying when I can so easily be found out.

“Ajeedie…” he tests the sound in his voice. “Are you aware, Ajeedie, it is a breach of our laws for a female on this world to masquerade as a male?”

I hesitate, then speak.

“Just get on with it, asshole,” I say defiantly. “We all know nothing I can say will make a difference.”

“Excellent,” Charax says, although I’m not sure why. “In that case, winch them all up,” he continues, stepping back into the center of the circle. “And let’s get these stupid slits naked”.

Men start moving – Charax’s underlings – as he addresses the room.

“They teach trainee Slavers that the two worst moments in a slave’s life are usually when she is first stripped, and first raped,” Charax says. “Well, you have done well today, my men, so these moments are yours to bestow. The prizes are yours to undress. You may do to these women as you wish, once they’ve been stripped. All I ask is the right to claim first the one I find most desirable. You may make use of her too, after me, of course.”

There is a cheer. “Chief! Chief!” they chant, as though he’s not a junior officer, but a faction leader.

I strain angrily, trying to pull my wrists free of the restraining bracelets. We are not “prizes”. We are not the entertainment for some victory celebration. It’s just been confirmed - this Charax is as big a prick as the rest of them.

But I don’t have any more time to consider who I hate most on this cursed world. There is the sound of cranking machinery, and the bar between my wrists suddenly jerks upwards towards the ceiling. Around the circle, bursts forth the frightened cries of fake males. The joints in my arms stretch painfully as my wrists suddenly bear the weight of my body. I scrape my heavy boots futilely against the cover underneath me, trying to maintain some purchase, but soon I’m kicking the empty air. When the mechanism stops, I’m left suspended - just far enough from the floor that I can’t even reach it by stretching down my toes.

I look frantically up at my chained wrists, and twist and turn the bones in the shackles to try and free myself. But I know I’m helpless to prevent what’s coming.

Charax’s goons are already moving to the others, but there is a hesitancy to approach me. By explanation, a man with a long nose asks of his commander “You’re sure you don’t want to undress the best one yourself?”

“No, for now I simply wish to watch,” Charax replies calmly. “I want to savor the view.”

There’s not time to comment on that, for male assailants are quickly onto me. I’m flexing my wrists and flailing with my feet in a last attempt to kick at them, but of course it only invites them to cut away my boots first. Hands inevitably touch me, and then they inevitably pull at my clothing, and there’s nothing left which prevents them undressing me. The removal of my Slaver uniform they do in a perfunctory manner, quickly slicing the fabric when only the male body suit is underneath. The sight of a naked man is not of interest to these fellows. During this undressing I do not resist the process and hang there limply, despite the dreadful implications that come from being nude on Aghara-Penthay.

Before long the bracelets present me as a restrained, suspended, naked male. I hang with my legs slightly apart, and my fake genitals dangle downwards between artificial thighs. Around me, my naked comrades are similarly revealed. Ko’s genitals are unfeasibly large in relation to her short stature. I wonder if she specified being hung like the Alien. If only these forms were real, our futures would be so much better.

“Very impressive disguises,” Charax says with approval, “but you will know that here on Aghara-Penthay, we all prefer the sight of naked females, and we are eager to see your real bodies. Men: continue.”

Gods save me, here it comes, here it comes. His men move in again, and begin to pull at the skin on my upper arm, as though they’re trying to stretch a party balloon to bursting.

“The skin suits open at the back of the neck,” Charax reminds them, “so the implanted one told us. Preserve the biotech suits. We want to analyze them. They might come in useful.”

His men rapidly shift their touch towards my back. I brace myself as the hands find the right spot on my spine. Here it comes. A sensation of tearing behind me, and then the air of the room is on the glistening skin of my real, bare, back.

Gods help me, I’m being exposed as a woman on Aghara-Penthay.

“You’re probably wishing you were dead,” Charax says, words primarily aimed at me, but loud enough to be heard by us all. “I can’t imagine how humiliating it must be for you all to be captives of the Slavers. The Djenerion claim that their women are divine intermediaries, but the Gods really seem to hate you, don’t they?”

I can’t help but agree. While he speaks, I’m gradually unveiled – the suit opening down my spine to my pelvis, coming away over my true face, spilling the long damp tail of my matted hair.

“Wait, stop!” Charax says abruptly. The men undressing me pause. I’m used to enduring men looking at me with admiration, but Charax’s expression is more angry surprise.

“Gods,” one says. “She looks just like a blonde version of that Rape Runner – the bounty hunter.”

Please, why couldn’t I have died, I silently ask myself? Even having my face displayed makes me feel terribly exposed. My resemblance to Ja-Alixxe doesn’t explain the sudden tension, though.

“Okhoron!” one of the men stripping me gives it voice.

Charax rounds on Norenda.

“You never said she was Okhoron,” he says angrily.

“I never had chance!” she stammers, shaking with fright, “I didn’t think it mattered.”

“Didn’t think it mattered that a trained killer was leading the group?”

He’s almost bellowing now.

“A captive is a captive!” Norenda gabbles. “You nearly had her anyway.”

Charax breaths deeply, calming himself.

“So, Okhoron, it’s not surprising your group caused such havoc,” he tells me, rubbing his chin with his hand as he examines me. “Okhoron, eh?... Well now, you, Okhoron, are a tasty little slit. Very pretty. But I’m sure you’re well aware of that. Proud of that face, huh?”

“She’s exquisite,” a muscled giant of a male agrees. “I was on The Hub when Tisya’s group came through, Chief. Salarin took some prime meat with the other guardians, but this one stands out even among them. If her body matches the face, it’ll be a shame when we have to dispose of her. Look at that angry mouth. And aren’t those lips made to suck cocks?”

“I’ll bite yours off if I get the chance, asshole,” I growl at him.

“Remember those words when I’m fucking you, slave,” he grins. “It’s your asshole, you need to worry about.”

“Perhaps you thought your beauty would save you, if you were caught?” Charax asks me, resuming control. I shake my head. “You hope you’re too desirable to suffer like your friends? But there is a sacred rule on Aghara-Penthay. Even for men, there are some rules. We have one which says no woman is too beautiful to be above the law.”

Good. Even if it’s brutal, I’d sooner die than live as a sex slave to these men.

“Continue,” Charax orders his men.

The work resumes, the bodysuit being dragged down my arms (requiring another fumbling maneuver releasing my wrists one at a time), leaving the biomaterial still giving its last protection to my chest, but exposing my back down to the base of my spine.

He’s about to see my breasts. Aww, crap, they’re all about to see my breasts. I tense my arms, as though lifting my body up a few inches might somehow move me safely out of their range, but of course there’s no escape. Strength fails me and I sink back down, blinking back the tears of shame, as my suit is tugged in one moment right down to my abdomen. I can feel the air of the room on my chest. Almost all the others are already completely naked. I’m the only one with any covering remaining, and yet I’m still the one nearly everyone is choosing to watch.

Too humiliated to see their faces, whether cruel or sympathetic, I look down at the globes of flesh attached to my chest, with those nipples I always considered embarrassingly overlarge. My raised arms lift my breasts even more now, while offering no chance of concealment. The pale skin is my torso is glistening as though I’ve been oiled for a massage. Gods, this is unbearable, being on show like this. Kill me now, I pray.

“Now those are a pair of premium titties,” announces the one who bared my chest. The same man who labelled me as Okhoron. To me he adds, “Nice hooters, cunt!”

“Beauty is skin deep, but you’ll always be a moron,” I try to retort, but it’s hard showing authority when you’re topless and helpless, and my defiance just provokes a laugh.

“I’m going to fuck you too, for that,” the moron informs me.

Without warning Charax steps up to me, and cups my breasts, one in each hand, and bounces them, daring to feel their weight, as though he’s testing fruit. I close my eyes thinking how they must all be watching me – all my team are watching me humiliated and proven weak.

“You were quite right,” comments Charax to the minion who made his lewd observations. “She does have nice heavy titties. Excellent.”

My breasts are released as abruptly as the attack started, but when he’s gone, the feeling of where his hands were on me remains.

“Slaver scum,” I say softly.

“Once more, proceed,” Charax orders, ignoring my words, and my suit is abruptly dragged down over my groin. This move exposes my womanhood - my real buttocks and my genitals open to the room. These men can see my core now – the place between my legs, where I have an opening instead of a protruding penis - a vulva and a vagina - parts of my body that doom me to the status of a slave on this world.

Only the flesh down my legs remain covered. Oh, this is unbearable. I try to adopt a position that’s as unattractive as possible, but my pussy and ass are exposed now, and hanging from my wrists automatically forces my back into a natural arch. That posture may withdraw my vulva from prominence, but it presents my rump all the more completely behind me. I’m not sure what’s worse – pushing my behind out invitingly, or the way the arch of my spine displays my breasts.

I twist my hips, but give up. The only strategy left is to endure. I stare straight ahead and try to control my emotions, as I don’t want them to see how much this humiliation is getting to me.

It’s warm, even within the protection of buildings on this sun-blasted world, and my pale skin is still dripping with sweat. Between my buttocks I’m still slick with fluid, and trails of liquid chase the remains of my suit down to my feet, when the men finish rolling the remains of my covering away like pantyhose. And with that, even my last feeble protection is gone, and I’m completely naked. I’m a naked woman, on display to the Slavers of Aghara-Penthay.

I, Ajeedie, am being presented, utterly nude. I am unwillingly showing off my entire body, displaying it to the men, displaying it to my comrades, as they display their bodies to me. I see them all in their true forms. Ko – ebony skinned with a nimbus of frizzy hair, a short woman, with breasts that are oversized in relation to her body. Diaz – tall and white with a healthy body and wide hips. She’s the oldest – her breasts are beginning to sag with the onset of middle-age. Ak-Mancheen – heavily built, strong and with little breast development. Blonde and blue eyes, she’s rather mannish. You’d have guessed her to be the lesbian one, rather than Orteza. Illyri – a small, rather diminutive figure, with an intelligent expression and a freckled face. Then there’s the two women from the rescue team – overweight, frumpy Beana with here pasty-looking, acne-covered face. And Morine, pale with a natural sensuality that makes her attractive, and with jet black hair nearly as long as mine.

We are women. Women on Aghara-Penthay. We haven’t been processed yet, but because we have female genitalia, we are sex slaves, now – it is the law on this world. And men on Aghara-Penthay may do as they wish with sex slaves. The rapes haven’t begun yet, but they’re unavoidable. I saw a broadcast of a survivor of slavery saying their existence becomes easier once the captive accepts it. I am Ajeedie, I am a sex slave, I tell myself. Don’t try to stop them looking at your body. It’s pointless. They will do what they want, because you are a sex slave.

It doesn’t seem to help.

“Well the rest of her does not disappoint,” is Charax’s professional assessment as he approaches me. “Premium quality female. You would have been Rape Run grade material, had things been different. But you must be wasted, as you wasted so many male lives.”

I flinch at that hated phrase – Rape Run grade, but Charax is too busy to notice.

“Winch the marked one up as well, please,” Charax says. The cry suggests Norenda wasn’t expecting the same treatment. Her sudden wails have no impact as she is dragged by two men towards one of the frames, and quickly suspended like the rest of us.

While Norenda is being stripped – a simple matter of pulling a tie when a woman wears a wrap - Charax walks out of my view, round behind me. I try to move my rump anticipating an unseen assault, but that’s not his first target. He reaches instead round my front, and he touches me at my most intimate place, between my open legs. I cannot avoid crying out. Gods help me, don’t touch me! Not there, not in front of everyone.

“You’re sensitive,” observes Charax. “But don’t be ashamed of that, cunt. That won’t last for long. You won’t feel a thing by the time we hand you over.”

Next Charax’s fingers do travel over my rump, as though he’s evaluating a prize beast rather than a human being. Wherever I look for aid I see eyes locked on Charax and me – the men with expressions of cruel amusement and desire, the women with horror. I try to be strong, but I start to blush. I’m ashamed. Ashamed to arouse desire in the men, ashamed to look pathetic and helpless in front of my team. Unable to bear so many eyes, I drop my head and stare down at the metal floor.

It’s fallen quiet while they watch us, so the rustle from Charax’s pants opening is audible even with so many people in the room.

Is this it? Please, isn’t there something I can do?

He grasps my hips with both hands, and pulls me back against him, lifting me slightly, so my naked buttocks are squashed against his abdomen. Some of my body weight goes from the restraints, and I’m able to flex my wrists.

I feel the head of his cock now, iron-hard and warm. He must be big down there, for even from behind his length reaches between my legs and presses against the lips of my vulva. I shake my torso, trying to move my pelvis away from the intruder, but he grips my hips and keeps me steady.

“You’re going nowhere, slut,” he tells me.

I feel tears beading in my eyes. Please, someone save me.

“Confirm something for me again Ajeedie: your religion – the Djenerion,” Charax says loudly, “is it correct that only virgin females attain paradise, and once you have sex with a male, even if it is rape, you’re denied entry forever?”

He must already know the answer. But he wants me to say it.

“That is correct,” I reply quietly.

“Louder, slit…”

“That is correct.”

“And in your backside, is no different to the front?”

There is a chuckle from the men. My backside? Why does he…? Oh please, please, please, no!

“Answer, slit,” he insists.

“That is correct,” I repeat in an even softer voice.

“Louder…”

“That is correct.”

“Good,” crows Charax. “That pleases me. That pleases me very much. At the moment when, in front of your team, my cock enters your anus and your future is torn away, I hope to hear you mourn, as we mourned the men you all butchered.”

Desperately I look round for aid, even though I know there’s no hope. All those of my team within my view are watching me, transfixed with horror, and having them witness my humiliation is going to be almost as bad as the physical suffering. These women looked up to me once. No, please, not in front of all of them…

“No!” I plead, but no-one seems to be listening to me.

Say goodbye to your gods, cunt!” says Charax.

His thrust is sudden and brutal, and as forecast, penetrates not into my vagina, but between my buttocks and into my anus. Charax uses no lubricant, and something instantly rips inside me. I scream with pain. A second later he withdraws part way, rams roughly forward again, withdraws, rams forward, and so on. I feel stuffed with him, but my suffering is so intense that I am spared the experience feeling sexual - there is little sensation from my pelvis except pain.

Forwards, withdraw, forwards, withdraw, while I cry over and over, unable to conceal my agony. So this is how my time as a free woman ends – brutally anally raped in front of my team. Charax fucks me hard, and each thrust pushes my whole torso forwards, making my breasts swing and forcing out another moan. I try to drop my head in defeat, but he notices and knots one hand in my long hair and uses it like an animal rein to pull my head back, so I must look at the room. My team of virgins watch me, trying to comprehend and come to terms with the experience before they endure it themselves.

The shame I feel is almost as bad than the physical suffering. I’m ashamed of being naked in front of everyone; I’m ashamed of being so publicly humiliated; I’m ashamed of the way that after a minute, he decides to reach around with his free hand and pull at my nipples, and that means they can all see my breasts stretch; I’m ashamed of the way I can’t help moaning each time he rams into my rear, but strangely, I feel most self-conscious about having them see my face. They can watch the expression I pull when I’m being savagely fucked. I don’t want to appear weak and show I’m suffering, but the torture to my pelvis is too intense to conceal, and it would be worse if they believe some part of me is enjoying this. Please girls, don’t look at me.

The room is strangely silent except for my cries, and his grunts of pleasure. My eyes flick from face to face to face, looking for a rescue which I know will never come.

I don’t have any warning when Charax climaxes. Overloaded with pain, I don’t feel his penis move any differently. He just thrusts particularly hard, pulls my rump firmly against him and holds himself there as deep in me as he can go, and gasps like he’s carrying a heavy burden.

When he withdraws, I’m forced to cry out again. The overwhelming slicing sensation towards absence is almost as bad as being filled. As he lets go, my head is finally released. I let it hang down in surrender as I reflect that I’ve crossed a point of no return in my life. Before I was Ajeedie, an individual, a person, whose thoughts and feelings mattered. Now I’m nothing more than a female body, one of the thousands, probably millions, of slave women who have been raped over the centuries here on Aghara-Penthay. I hang heavy and limp from my wrists. I’m sweating almost as much as when I was in the suit. My rear is burning like it’s on fire, and there’s something slick and disgusting I can feel filling the cleft between my buttocks.

“Next?” says Charax. “Toscoro – why don’t you take a turn? You’re hung like the Alien was.”

“No!” I plead, but Toscoro – the muscly giant who’s cock I threatened to bite off, is already stepping up to me. There is a sharp intelligence in his expression – it was a mistake to cross this one. A second mistake is looking round my women. I shrink from the blind horror in Illyri’s face.

“Any more threats, bitch?” he asks me. I look away, submissively.

Unlike Charax, Toscoro wants me vaginally. He pulls his penis from his uniform – a hideously large veined thing – while closing the space between us.

“Open your legs,” he gruffly orders me.

I’m complying, for their victory is complete now, but something doesn’t satisfy him enough, and he punches me in my belly. Okhoron reflexes give me plenty of time to anticipate the impact, but with my hands shackled above me, and my body weakened from the first rape, I’m too slow to lift my feet and block it. The air rushes out of me. It feels like I’ve been hit in the stomach by a sledgehammer. Men laugh.

“Lotho-Etsarra was a great faction leader,” he tells me. “You’re going to pay for what you did, cunt. Now open your legs.”

I don’t want to be punched again, so I docilely participate in my own rape, lifting my knees and wrapping my legs around him so he might more easily violate me.

When it’s just the tip of him touching me, the penis of this “Toscoro” doesn’t feel too unbearable. But then he buries himself deep in my vagina, and forced to accommodate the shaft, I must cry so loudly it’s almost a scream. Please no – gods, he’s huge. Again, it feels like I’m going to rip apart.

Meanwhile Charax has returned to his station in front of me, to best observe the scene. I can see him over Toscoro’s massive shoulder. Charax’s penis, the organ which just orgasmed inside me, is still free from his pants. It looks revolting, even fatter and smoother than I’d expected, coated with the slime of blood and excrement from my rear. He is still hard, and there is a milky ooze seeping from the tip of him.

He watches me, watches me with my thighs wrapped around Toscoro, while we fuck. The giant is supporting my body weight by gripping my naked buttocks with his hands, so my arms currently hang limp and passive from the bracelets.

While the second man is raping me, Charax addresses the room.

“You’re all welcome to use Ajeedie,” he announces to his team. “She’s not taking long to tame. Or if you’d prefer to be first to soil one of the others, help yourselves.”

With a rumble of conversation, the men disperse. Some want to wait for a turn with me, but the panicked cries of some other women join mine, as a few men make fresh choices. Quickly the rhythmic moans of more women being raped begins to fill the silence. As of now, they too are no longer virgins of the Djenerion Sect. They have become sex slaves. I am a sex slave. This sound of mass-suffering is perhaps to rapists, erotic, for Toscano climaxes at this point. He withdraws his huge erection from me, making me gasp, releases me, and again I hang helplessly from my wrists.

“Now you, Ajeedie, are a good fuck,” he tells me.

I had wanted to die rather than submit to this. I don’t want to be a good fuck. I’m surely at the lowest point of my life. Perhaps it would be cathartic for me if only I could let go of my self-control and weep dejectedly in front of the women I used to command. But for some reason I can’t. Perhaps I’m still numb with the enormity of it and I’ll go to pieces later. Perhaps it’s some shielding mechanism dissociating me from reality. Perhaps there’s just not time. A moment later someone behind me unexpectedly strokes my breast, and then that person then forces entry into my already damaged rear.

I could believe I’m growing more immune to the pain, but that doesn’t prevent my stamina depleting rapidly. Before long I believe I’ve felt so tired in my life. Terror-induced adrenaline is all that keeps me conscious. By the time number four rapes me, I’m barely able to lift my head and look around the room. When I do muster the strength, what I see is a tragic scene of depravity. At the beginning, Charax’s men chose me as the most desirable, but most of my comrades are not so homely as to be beneath sating their lusts. Men are raping away the afterlives of short, dark-skinned Ko, elfin freckled Illyri, pale Morine, big-breasted Norenda, and older, strong Diaz.

Gods, did I look like as tragic as they do? I’ve never seen women look so utterly degraded. Their bodies swing from their chained wrists with each thrust from their rapists, making their breasts sway like udders. Faces are screwed up with the inescapable intensity of the sensation. Morine seems to be their favorite, aside from me. She has a line formed, with two other men waiting their turn.

Only mannish Ak-Mancheen and the acne-covered Beana are untouched. Are they to be envied or pitied?

On this planet where all men are brutes, it’s ironically a male who brings temporary reprieve. A messenger arrives, a scrawny, pock-marked fellow wearing the badges of Salarin’s faction. In spite of his uninspiring looks, he carries an air of authority, and a symbol on his sleeve denotes a rank surprising in one barely out of his teens. He freezes for a moment as he takes in the scene, but then remembers himself and draws himself upright, ready to say something of great importance.

“Who is in charge here?” he asks in a confident voice. “Who is Charax?”

“I am. Who is asking?” replies Charax.

“I am Morg,” he says. “I bring news. I represent Salarin’s faction. I’m here to tell you we are your faction, now. You, and your men.”

11 – Pit

“That asshole?” says Charax scornfully. “I’d rather rape that ugly one over there than swear allegiance to his clan. The man is dick-sick. He’s losing it, only interested in that Rape Runner he keeps as a pet.”

“Salarin holds you in similar esteem,” says Morg, unruffled. “The whole of Aghara-Penthay remembers it was Charax who called the sandstorm alarm, allowing Melena and Ja-Alixxe time to escape from The Zone. Another thirty seconds and we’d have had them.”

“Aghara-Penthay also knows I was following the protocols, protocols ordered by the leaders,” Charax says stiffly. “No-one could have predicted the outcome.”

“But I’m here today on business, not to debate sports,” Morg resumes smoothly. “There are developments. We’ve been trying to reach you for the past hour. A powerful new leader has arisen from the ranks of the Alien’s faction, risen mostly by killing anyone and everyone in his way. Significant numbers of men have joined him from the other factions, particularly yours. The only way to counterbalance the new authority is for a second large faction to exist. Cronorgan’s group are too small. So Kordin-Desh, highest remaining rank in the Lotho-Etsarra faction, has sworn loyalty to Salarin on behalf of the clan.”

“I don’t believe that,” Charax says. “Kordin-Desh hates Salarin almost as much as I do.”

“But he understands the political situation, so he did so all the same,” says Morg. “Go and check the news streams if you don’t believe me. You know what a pussy Wagner is. He wouldn’t dare call a cunt a cunt without official approval.”

There are murmurs among Charax’s men as this update is taken in. Temporarily, everyone has forgotten us. We hang by our wrists, naked and degraded. Most of my women look blatantly soiled. There’s no mistaking what’s happened to us all. We have streaks of filth down our legs. We are sweat-covered, our hair matted and messy. There is the broken fear in our eyes of women who are victims, victims like all the others we’ve seen since docking at The Hub. I don’t have a mirror, but I can guess I must look worse than the others. I’ve been raped the most.

We’re in this state when Morg pays attention to us, ending our breathing space.

“Who are these?” he says.

“The strike team,” answers Charax. “They’re the ones responsible for all this chaos. Once we’re finished with them, they’re to be delivered to the Chiefs for judgement.”

“They were supposed to have been delivered straight away,” Morg says disapprovingly.

“Yes, but delivered to who?” counters Charax. “We’ve been waiting to see who was in charge.”

“Rumor is, it’s the Elmek Fetish for them,” says Morg, with a hint of smugness. “Salarin suggested it.”

“Then for once I approve of your chief’s decisions,” says Charax.

“Our chief,” corrects Morg.

“But first, Sloar,” says Charax, again tapping one of the metal plates with his boots. “The Elmek can have those who survive.”

“Kill one before they’re handed over, and you’ll really be for the high jump,” says Morg, “especially if you snuff the pretty one.”

“Lotho-Etsarra was a personal friend,” Charax replies, determined. “We’ll take that risk.”

We women look at each other, wild eyed with fear. Of course, none of us know what the “Elmek Fetish” is, or “Sloar”, but we repeat the words over and over in our minds like some mantra, as though saying it will offer insight or protection.

“I sympathize,” says Morg. “I liked him too. But still, make sure they’re all delivered to Tak-Hadern before sunset. I can forget I found you, until then.”

“And what next for the faction?” Charax asks Morg.

“Auditors will take stock of the new resources,” replies Morg. “Roles will be assigned to new clan members.”

“Normality is restored. Salarin thinks to grab the wealth first,” Charax says snidely.

“None of this likes this situation,” says Morg. “These women have committed more damage than can ever be answered for. But so it is. That is all for now – I have others to inform. Spread the word to troops in the faction – our faction - if you see them.”

With that, he turns stiffly on his heel and walks out the room. There is silence for a moment as Charax’s men take in the developments, and thankfully, for a while longer rape seems to be forgotten.

Letting my head slump, I find myself looking down at my nude, sweat-covered body. Oh, I’m so tired. Gods help me, I’m in a terrible situation - suspended naked in front of men, dangling naked from my wrists – a captive of the Slavers, but I can think of little but resting. Concealment of my breasts is impossible, but with a dwindling reserve of energy I cross a bare thigh over my other leg to briefly conceal my core, smearing a streak of my blood which runs in a thick trail down as far as my knee.

My vagina feels like it’s on fire, but the pain from my ass is much worse. I don’t need to see so much blood on my leg to know I’ve been seriously injured in my behind.

I summon the strength to look around at my naked, helpless, team. Morine looks to be in the worst state among them. She’s also half unconscious with exhaustion, blood steaking her legs too, her luscious dark hair matted to her pale skin. Freckled Illyri’s whole body is trembling as though she’s cold. Surprisingly, the unsoiled Ak-Mancheen looks the most frightened. She’s twisting and turning futilely in a desperate effort to escape her bonds. Perhaps the most terrifying thing is that which we don’t know.

Meanwhile the men, all but ignoring us, discuss Morg’s announcement.

“We’re in Salarin’s faction?” says the one named Toscoro, who raped me. “Gods damn him, that cum-drip.”

A cum-drip – a thing of shame. I can still feel Toscoro’s cum-drips, seeping from my vagina.

“You should lead a faction.” It is one of Charax’s men who offers this, rather than Charax himself. “Break away. We’ll follow you.”

“Aye!” a few more agree.

“There are too few of us to form a new faction,” Charax disagrees. “And we’ll not be able to depose Salarin from within this clan. The White Rapers are too loyal.”

“His personal army?” says Toscoro. “Gods damn them too. If I had my wish, they’d be serving on The Hub, implanted to please men, and their leader with them.”

“After that shambles in the Rape Run they blamed me for, if Salarin could be publicly discredited, that would be enough to make my day,” grumbles Charax. “I’d even settle for one of his bitches snapping his neck, if it would just get him out the way.”

“A girl with a functional implant would never do that,” says Toscoro. “And a girl with a broken implant – she’d be too busy trying to save her own neck.”

“Of course, I know that,” Charax snaps irritably.

Toscoro looks at me speculatively.

“It’s a shame we can’t keep primary control of that one,” he says, indicating me. “You know what Salarin’s doing with the other women like her? The Okhoron? He’s got them all kept back, for a Cum Race. They’re all in a pen, just waiting, while his men use them. And the Cum Race winner is to be taken to join his personal slaves. You have an Okhoron right there. Put her into the Race, and make sure she gets to the palace. We already know she’s a killer.”

“But we can’t keep direct control. And I’ve not forgotten who she murdered,” counters Charax. “It’s thanks to her group we’re in this mess. It’s more important that she’s punished, and we’ll deal with Salarin later. Open the hatches.”

My heart begins to race with fear again. At his command there is a deep rumble of machinery, and from beneath me the cover begins to slide apart along its center line.

“You think the penalty she’d suffer for murdering Salarin would be any better than the penalty for murdering the other leaders?” argues Toscoro. “Look at it as postponing the inevitable.”

I can see what’s below now, waiting for me, and I scream. Other women in my team are doing the same as panic sweeps through our circle. Some are already flailing their legs, as though trying to escape by swimming up through the empty air.

It’s a humanoid, but only just. Its body is covered with a thick black fur, and it has an ape-like jutting jaw and low brow. The eyes that are fixed on me only show limited intelligence, and a string of thick saliva hangs from its jaw. The thing is huge – perhaps nine feet tall, and incredibly thickly muscled. It looks as though it could easily rip me in half with those gigantic arms. Most terrifying is the creature’s penis – larger even than the Alien’s. Perhaps a foot and half long, and easily three inches thick. The beast is rampantly hard, and as it stares at me it touches itself.

“Woman! Woman!” it growls at me excitedly.

It talks?

“No!” I beg to Charax, calling out shamelessly to him now that I understand. “Please, Gods no!”

“Meet the Sloar, cunts!” Charax smiles as he addresses us all. “A semi-intelligent species from the Danaris System. Unlike human males, who can mate pretty much any time, the Sloar go through a ten-day mating cycle only once every hundred days – one of their solar years.”

“During the cycle they experience a huge surge in testosterone, and they have an uncontrollable urge to mate. Anything with a pussy on two legs will do it for them when they’re pumped, but their females are hairless like ours, so they do have a particular appreciation of human women.”

“No!” I plead. Gods no – that thing’s dick can’t possibly fit inside me.

“Sex in their species is always rape. The males don’t go flaccid after climax, like human males, but can continue for hours, holding down the smaller females to prevent their escape. Scientists believe that this brutality ensures only females with strong genes have sufficient stamina to survive.”

I look at little Illyri, who is hysterical with terror. She can’t possibly survive if her monster is as big as mine. Its penis will reach half-way to her throat.

“Of course, the Sloar do not have the medical capabilities we do, but even to women encountered in the civilized galaxy, the beasts are still dangerous. But take consolation in this - any of you who perish now will be luckier than the survivors.”

Illyri’s screams are almost deafening.

“Someone gag that female over there,” Charax says with a dismissive wave. “I can’t hear myself think.”

Bastard. Fucking bastard. I don’t think there’s anyone I hate as much as him. Unfortunately, there’s nothing I’ll ever be able to do about it. Charax moves towards me. I’m the one he wants to see going in.

“You, on the other hand, are very free to scream,” he tells me. “I’m still waiting to hear you properly scream.”

“Fuck you!” I manage to say – probably my final chance at defiance. “If you’re going to do it, just put me in there.”

“Excellent,” he says again, and with a gesture to one of his underlings Charax says, “Lower them down.”

I kick out wildly, trying to gain some purchase on the rim of the pit, but it’s too wide.

Gradually I begin descending, in small jerky movements as one of the men cranks a handle. I’m instinctively pedaling my legs in the empty air, trying to figure some way I can protect myself from penetration by using my limbs, even though I know it’s going to be futile. Gods no, this is not going to be nice. All around me, my comrades are screaming. Most are lower than me already.

Charax watches me impassively, his arms folded, as I gradually drop into the pit. Bastard.

“What if we could ensure she’s loyal only to us?” interrupts the medic, hurrying over to Charax, his voice urgent. “There are ways… Risky. Illegal. But think of the rewards… You could take over the faction.”

I look at Charax desperately. He’s the only way I can avoid the unimaginable horror that’s waiting below. I am selfish, cowardly, but I want him to save me. Even if he saves only me.

“We can discuss it while she’s down there,” Charax says with icy calm. “Until then, I’m willing to take the chance that she might die.”

The men all seem to think the beast is unlikely to kill me, but I don’t see how death can be avoided if they do put me in the pit with it. They can’t seriously be planning to let those things have sex with us?

“Woman!” it growls.

Illyri’s hysterical screaming abruptly changes to muted howls. I look at her – perhaps the last time I’ll look at one of my team before I can only think of my own survival. Her mouth is distended by the giant ball that’s just been strapped between her jaws.

Bastards. They’re all bastards.

“Woman!” growls the beast below me. I look down just in time. Without warning it jumps for one of my feet, and I barely manage to lift my limb away. It’s surprisingly fast for something so big. Others are less lucky. Across the circle from me, Illyri’s body jerks downwards from some tremendous force, as though she’s being tugged like a pet’s toy. Her shoulders stretch unnaturally, and her muzzled cries abruptly cease as she loses consciousness.

I understand the danger more quickly than she did. I must prevent it getting a hold on me for as long as possible. If it tries to drag me down with its huge bodyweight, there’s a risk of pulling my arms out the sockets. So I lift my feet, bringing my knees to my chest, and I fold my stomach in, using the gymnastic flexibility which comes of Okhoron training. I’m showing an obscene view of my sex organ to the room while my hips drop below the level of the floor, but that can’t be helped.

“Nice pussy!” says Charax.

The creature jumps, and swipes my buttock with its paw. Its skin feels warm and leathery.

Lower and lower I descend. My breasts drop below the level of the floor. Then the pit opening is level with my eyeline. From across the circle another of my team gives a blood-curdling scream – an inhuman sound of unbearable horror, but I can’t see which woman it came from.

“I suppose you thought you could use your beauty to save yourself?” Charax asks. “That face, those tits… You usually get what you want from men?”

There’s not time to answer.

“Woman!” growls the creature below me, victorious.

I’m in its range now. I kick out with my heels, trying to keep it off me as long as I can, but the dark furred monster moves with dazzling speed, and grasps my legs – successfully seizing one of my knees in each of his huge hands. I tense everything, trying to keep myself closed to it, but it pulls my thighs open as easily as a human might pull apart the forks from a twig. The beast is incredibly strong – I might as well be resisting the hydraulics of a worker droid. And while keeping my legs open, it draws my vulva to its face, not caring that I’m still seeping filth from the rapes I endured above, and it buries its nose intimately into me. There’s nothing I can do to prevent it smothering itself in my warmth, and my fragrance, and my intimate secrets.

“Woman!” it confirms.

Think, Ajeedie, think! I must try something – anything. Instead of trying to draw away from the beast’s face, I squeeze my naked thighs tightly around its head and twist my lower body. If I can break the monster’s neck, I can delay abuse a little longer. But my attempt fails. I might as well be trying to snap a tree trunk between my legs. For the second time the creature parts my knees with his big paws, and I find I’m lower into the pit now – it can reach all of me.

“Woman!” it says.

Still resisting, I kick out at its massive erect penis – the organ as thick as a child’s arm and just as solid. And this finally gets a reaction, but not the one I wanted. It growls angrily, and lashes the back of its hand across my face. The blow is a lazy one – only intended to caution me. All the same it is stunning – it’s like being run over by a speeder, and my senses reel. When I come to, I’m lower still, and level with its face. Its huge hands are now gripping the backs of my knees, holding me against its fur covered torso at it keeps me open for its vast penis.

“Please!” I look up and beg, at the moment when the tip of that monstrous organ presses against my nether lips. There’s one brief instant when I can look up at Charax, who is staring down into the pit with an expression of resolve on his face.

And then the creature impales me, and for a while there is thankfully nothing more.

12 – Pens

Each time men come to the Okhoron pens, we line up – our naked formation a cruel mockery of our former military discipline.

Apparently, they only had to order us once. “When we come to the pens,” they said, “you will stand in formation, naked, that we may choose the ones we desire. Keep your hands at your sides during inspection, and do not attempt to conceal your bodies.”

Our implants compel us to obey the commands of men. More than that. The chips compel us to interpret, to get creative, in our urges to please. So when the steel blast door to the Okhoron pen opens, I’m on my feet to show myself before I even realize it. Implants like mine are biotech. Tendrils grow into the brain, increasing the device’s hold over the victim over time, until they can no longer distinguish their slave compulsions from their original nature.

Each time men come to our pen, it is not to bring food or drink. An obscenely shaped dispenser on the wall provides sufficient liquid, and mere slave girls can be given the chores of carrying in for us a pan of gruel or other basic nutrition. These women wear the now-coveted red slave wrap. We have all remained naked for an indeterminate length of time.

The slave girls come in unprotected and unsupervised, but none of us harm them or try to steal their clothing, and even though the blast door remains open none of us attempt to escape. We have been told not to leave, and the command’s control is absolute. Besides – where is there for implanted females like us to run?

The domestic duties of feeding us can be allocated to slaves, and forgotten. When men need to come, it is because they want to choose a female for rape. And docilely, we assist, standing to participate in their sick and twisted beauty contest. Once or twice, the unfortunate loser is then taken on the dirty concrete floor of the pen, while the others must watch, and listen, and smell. Usually though, they take one or more of us to a room, where the man can enjoy us on the comfort of a mattress, and in a little more privacy.

I am something of a favorite with the men. My face is classically beautiful; I am cursed with the large breasts, slim waist, and long legs which men find desirable; I am one of the younger Okhoron. But no woman is to every man’s taste. Sometimes they take Khaleena – older, but with a chest even larger than mine. Sometimes it’s Uteena – tall, lithe, and strong. Quite often it’s Warani – willowy, and lacking the strength of most of us, but the youngest, and possessing a beauty that’s almost divine.

Whoever is chosen, the victim has no option but to endure. We have no option but to wait and anticipate our next turn. We’re taken by the guards to be raped – anally, vaginally or orally, but always afterwards we’re returned, to idle the hours away, to be afraid and to wait. But for what?

Charax’s man, Toscano, said the Okhoron were in a holding pen ready to take part in something called a “Cum Race”. But I soon find out the other women here know no more about it than I do. In fact, we receive almost zero information about events beyond the walls of this room, and in our windowless prison with only artificial light, we lose all track of time. I quickly feel completely disconnected from my former life.

I don’t even remember much of my time in the pit with the Sloar. Its first penetration caused me such agony and such damage that I almost managed to escape forever from the universe, and there is little recollection until I was revived in a bacta tank, fully healed and ready to be ruined again.

Curiously, I remember my life up to the capture clearly, but all around the time with the Sloar my memories go into a period that’s vague. There are big blanks until the time I found myself here in the pen with the other Okhoron. I’m in the dark as to why Charax set aside his hatred of me and stowed me here with the others. When I try and recall, the moments slip away from me, like I’m trying to hold water in my hands, and I become so annoyed with my failing, it deters me from trying again.

It’s not as if the past matters much anyway when you’re a sex slave. There are plenty of problems in the present to occupy my thoughts. The Slavers like to teach captives that women are not just nothing – we’re less than nothing. Our wishes and feelings are worse than merely ignored. Female emotions are there, if men want, for the purpose of using them against us. One of the Slaver males must have conducted some research into the Sect, and their callous lack of sympathy for us inspired yet another cruel entertainment. The day after my arrival, a medic visited the pen and gave each Okhoron captive a biochip injection under our left arm, and then a smaller injection into each nipple. These seemed to be benign until the next morning. I say morning, but I actually just mean the light-time, which comes after the time they plunge our prison cell into darkness.

On that morning, I was awoken by the scream of one of my comrades. She was looking down in horror at her breasts, which overnight had started oozing milk. Another woman cried out in horror, then another, then hysteria spread. Quickly I checked myself, and of course my nipples were seeping too. I wiped myself clean on a fingertip, staring at the liquid in incomprehension.

“We found out Djenerion think milk is disgusting,” explained the laughing males, when they visited us later in the day, “but you are only slaves, and will drink milk if it pleases us. The biochips inside your bodies release a hormone, stimulating the milk production. There is enough hormone to keep each of you lactating for several years.”

I held my chest with my hands, as though my breasts were alien to me. They felt heavier than the day before. Other women in the pens were looking similarly stunned.

“Furthermore, to relieve yourselves of the milk load,” the male continued, “you will not be able to stimulate your own breasts, or use pumps. The nanotech in your nipples ensures they will only function in response to another woman’s lips.”

He was already touching himself in anticipation.

“That’s right, slaves, welcome to your new lives, where you must suckle each other every day. Our new orders are, that you must relieve each other every day, and remember each time you do so, how proud you once were. Remember how you once believed you were better than men, but now you are nothing but our sex slaves. And it is now time for your first day milking each other. Begin!”

There was no refusal permitted. Weeping, I squeezed the hand of Uteena, the nearest female to me, reassuringly, and she guided me down to her body. I thought about how I was once proud, but now I was only a sex slave, and I began my work.

In this interminable hell of the pens, our past no longer has relevance, except to remind us how far we’ve fallen, and our future, containing only horror, is best not imagined. We just exist in the misery of the present. The slaves who care for us occasionally deliver snippets of current gossip, but such barely matters. The Rape Run has concluded for the year. So what? A new faction leader has risen and absorbed most of the unlamented Jackran-ad-aktar and Lotho-Etsarra’s factions, with the scraps drifting to Salarin and Cronorgan. His name is Monad. The women whisper that he is worse than the others combined. He takes what he wants by force, and he often kills slaves for pleasure. Already they name him “The Brute”. But so what? A quick death might be better than the life of a sex slave.

We were only considered worthy of seeing one official news broadcast. Streams rarely upset me, but this one did, for it contained information of a personal nature. Wagner opened the report, informing the universe that a team of crazed zealot women from the Djenerion Sect had reached the surface of the planet disguised as males, in an attempt to save their leader. During the insurgency, two faction leaders met heroic deaths, as well as the team’s target - the Runner Tisya. However, the women were quickly captured, and the galaxy can rest assured that order is restored.

Aghara-Penthay is stronger than ever.

Let their sentence be a warning to women across the galaxy, of the fate that awaits if you defy us, Wagner had warned. And then I saw them. They were gifted to the Elmek, Wagner said, the Elmek - who fetishize women as inert and immobile sex dolls.

I had my first glimpse of those “sex dolls”, and I screamed. My team had each had every single one of their limbs amputated, severed right to the joints, so their lower bodies now terminated with their sex organs, and their arms were barely twitching stumps. Wagner said they’d also been muted – muted in every way, so they couldn’t even communicate by using their expressions to indicate ‘yes’ or ‘no’. And that seemed to be the case. If it wasn’t for the movement of their heads, and of one occasionally opening her jaw, I could have believed they were mannequins lying there on their backs.

Poor pale Morine, her silent face framed by her dark hair; Beana, slimmed through some process, and with her skin cleared; tiny freckled Illyri – the stumps of her limbs slightly moving, she was the clever one, but will never show her wit again; Ak-Mancheen, her brave strength now useless; dark skinned Ko staring out with her thoughts forever locked inside; Norenda’s large breasts helpless; and Diaz, her age regressed a decade to make her more desirable.

Each one of my unfortunate women helpless. Each one with eyes rolling in unbearable silent horror, looking for a salvation that is never coming. Each one screaming silently.

And then I saw the Elmek.

They look humanoid, but compared to the women of my team, they’re miniscule – six inches tall at the very most. One of them was shown posing next to Illyri’s sex organs – the place that used to be the apex of her legs, but is now the terminus of her body – and he’s able to part the folds of her vulva like they’re curtains. He buries his whole arm inside, and when he withdraws it, he tastes her.

For a moment, I assumed that was punishment enough – turning those poor creatures into vegetables to fulfill some perverted taste for gigantic women.

But no.

The tiny man abruptly raised a weapon - something like a machete, barely the size of a matchstick to my eyes, and without warning he hacked a chunk of flesh the size of his fist from Illyri’s nether lips. He turned away, ignoring that her organ was oozing blood, and threw the meat on a glowing brazier, where it immediately sizzled and smoked.

The Elmek only eat the erogenous zones, Wagner told us. That’s the Elmek fetish – it arouses them to devour the erogenous zones of giant women. How did that ever become ingrained into a planet’s culture, he chuckled. Meat from the vulva is the most prized, then the breasts, and also the buttocks. It can take half a galactic year for the tiny Elmek to reduce a normal size female, chunk by chunk, each small cut agony, to a point where the desirable parts are gone, after which the victim is discarded.

I don’t know when I lost my self-control, but by the end of the transmission I was screaming so hard I barely heard Wagner repeat his warning to the galaxy’s “cunts” that the fate of the next woman to try and oppose Aghara-Penthay would be worse.

It took thirty minutes for my Okhoron sisters in the pen to calm me. Since then, I’ve only managed to contain my sanity by hiding in the stupor of depression, eating only when commanded, forced to drink the repellant milky secretions of my companions, and remaining largely unaware of time passing.

I must only fully engage with reality when I am chosen to serve. On my back or my belly, and with a man’s penis inside my body, I would wish to remain absent, but no. I am cursed. Then I am forced to be present. Then I can feel every nerve of the body that so many have called perfect, as they sweat and groan and release more of their vile seed into me.

My thoughts tumble over and over the same loop. The Elmek Fetish should have been me. That will be me – Charax strikes me as implacable – or he would have been implacable, if not for handing me over to the mysterious Cum Race. It feels like I only have a temporary reprieve. Would I have preferred that I was already there with them? I deserve punishment, for leading them here. The Elmek Fetish should have been me.

Round and round I go, but meanwhile, each time a stranger reaches his disgusting climax inside me, another small piece of my soul dies inside, as though I am being devoured. And I become less and less sure of the right answers.

13 - Sport

The Rape Run takes place just once every galactic year, but of course, it is not the only sport on the world of Aghara-Penthay. Most sports combine the pleasures men enjoy - competition, watching suffering, and desirable females. The women are usually motivated to strive by some form of horrific penalty for failure.

There are five, maybe even ten thousand men filling this amphitheater – the males sheltering comfortably under vast shades, those of us on the arena floor burning under the ferocious noonday sun of Aghara-Penthay.

In such a vast group, men no longer act as individuals. It feels like we’re surrounded by a mob, animals, shouting and baying for blood. On the sand of the arena, we kneel for them - each one of us a member of the Okhoron, naked and similarly prepared ready for the sport, positioned facing a VIP box. While we women wait, dizzy from the heat, Aghara-Penthay’s rulers relax under a broad sunshade, being served refreshing looking drinks by the most exquisite examples of the planet’s slave girls.

My comrades and I each straddle a device much like a saddle, only modified saddles, with two additional stalks of a rubbery material fixed to our seats. I wait with one of these stalks lodged in my vagina, and the other stuffing my anus. My Okhoron sisters are in the same predicament. The cocks are both large, but the one filling my rear is particularly uncomfortable, triggering a sharp jabbing pain when I move, as though it’s too large for my insides. If I were unrestrained, it would be a simple matter to stand and free myself of these phallic invaders, but my kneeling position - legs folded so far back that my heels press into my buttocks – means I’m unable to lift my pelvis to the required height. The Slavers have roped each one of us down to the saddle, in such a way that we have no option but to wait and endure the feeling of double impalement from this position. These bonds stretch my knees open as well as down, meaning I must wait with my thighs wide apart. Just having my nether regions exposed before men would be unbearable enough, but then there’s my upper body.

Every Okhoron’s saddle is located with two vertical poles either side of it, poles an inch thick and formed of a metal alloy. Shackles lock my wrists to these poles. Like the ropes opening my knees, the poles also permit no concealment, being far enough away that I must extend my arms out, and my body shape resembles a capital “T”. Unable to pull my elbows in, I kneel with my breasts on full show. In my past life I always preferred to conceal my body, but now thousands have seen every intimate detail of my nakedness. I know this for a fact, because I have already appeared in close up on the gigantic viewing screens in the corners of the stadium. The obscene full frontal pose even reveals the way my vulva is stretching around the rubbery cock.

There is one last augmentation, which I do not yet understand. Every one of us has tiny alloy cups, no bigger than thimbles, attached to our erogenous areas. There is one enveloping each of my nipples, temporarily concealing the constant oozing, and a third over the sensitive button of my clitoris. Their technology includes some form of vacuum to enable attachment. It feels as though the sucking cups touch every nerve of me, enclosing my nipples more intimately than a lover’s mouth. Their purpose is unknown to me, but dislodging them is impossible, so I have no ability to conceal from the audience that I wear these things, and I have no option but to endure them remaining fixed to me. Salarin called the event in which I’m going to participate a “Cum Race”. No doubt the thimbles relate to the sport.

I wish I could say that participation in the Cum Race isn’t going to be as bad as the fear of anticipating the unknown sport – hours upon hours in a bare stone cell with these other naked Okhoron women. But I’ve been on Aghara-Penthay long enough to know just how cruel the Slavers can be. I’ll take the boredom.

Fearing the worst, but able to do nothing to avoid it, we wait. There is no need to rush the beginning - not when the crowd have nude women to enjoy, and I believe we are deliberately given time to strain against our bonds. The cameras enjoy the sight of us – advancing from woman to woman to woman. Some of my comrades I see straining, but I remain limp. There I am again filling the display, kneeling, naked but defiant, my thighs spread showing my vulva. My breasts are particularly large compared to the women around me, and perhaps that’s why there’s a cheer each time when I’m on screen.

The next girl in shot is a struggler, but her straining is viewed from the rear. All the Okhoron are healthy and nubile, and it probably pleases the audience to watch the muscles in her feminine buttocks flex and tense desperately, in response to her movements.

I am located almost centrally within the circle of the amphitheater. Perhaps this is lucky, as it means I can’t discern the heckling of individual men over the noise of the crowd. The women close to the edge can probably hear the most personal, and therefore hurtful abuse. I can see a female near the edge of arena shaking, as though she is crying.

For a while I managed to remain still, but once the instinct to move overcomes me, I begin rocking my hips, in an effort to reduce my contact with the phalluses. The feeling of the two invaders moving so deep inside me has become more unbearable than the enforced inertia. I look nervously around. In the crowd I see slave women, some with their owners, some moving around serving the crowd with refreshments. Most are wearing the red wraps of females belonging to Aghara-Penthay, but a few are nude.

Yet again I am on screen – I really do seem to be a favorite. The view is from my back this time, but I recognize my hair and the wide curves of my hips. I see myself and feel ashamed. OK, so it turns out the whole audience can see my anus stretching as well, trying to accommodate the phallus behind me, which rises and falls within me as I rock my pelvis.

I look back to the box, and see Salarin rise to his feet, triggering a sudden drop in the volume from the crowd.

“Cunts of the Okhoron!” he calls to us, his voice amplified across the arena. “You pride yourselves on your bravery, your strength and your stamina. Today we will test that to its limits. Welcome to the Cum Race.”

I hear the woman on my right, someone I’m unable to turn my head and see, moan in fear. We all feel the same terror of the unknown. What is a Cum Race?

“The rules are simple,” Salarin explains. “Grasp the poles either side of you with your hands, and you will be rewarded with pleasurable vibration from the stimulators locked onto your nipples and your clits. Release your hold, and the stimulators will switch to serve as pain actuators, torturing your erogenous zones. The cocks which you ride also have this functionality, allowing them to either arouse you internally, or hurt you.”

In the quiet of the arena floor, all around me I hear the clink of chains as women grasp their poles. I am no stronger than them, and also squeeze my fingers around the metal like it’s a lifeline. There is laughter from the crowd.

“Simple, no?” continues Salarin. “No, because slaves who give in to the orgasm from their stimulators will be removed from the race, and handed over to the pleasure of the crowd. The crowd may use you over and over right until sunset, which is in approximately seven hours’ time. The most desirable will therefore be raped many, many times – especially the females who climax first, and spend longer with my men.”

I release my poles as quickly as if they’re red hot.

I’m doing the math, like most of those around me. Panic begins to spread through the kneeling females. The atmosphere grows thicker with the terror. Forty-nine women. As many as ten thousand men. One female per two hundred males? It’s impossible. We’ll be raped to death. But what’s the alternative – torture?

“Some of you will be pushed over the brink by the gangbangs ahead of you, but fear not - you will still be submerged in the bacta and healed. Rape gives you no escape from your worthless lives. Afterwards, every loser will be taken to a sales pen and placed for auction, in the common pool with our other captives, and serving your new owners you will begin to earn a place in this universe.”

No, no, no! I too moan, and I try to rise from my saddle, but I can barely move. The phalluses spear back to their full depth as I sink down.

“It is known that the female body becomes desensitized to suffering, but for you cunts, both your pleasure and pain stimulators will intensify during the game, keeping you at the peak of suffering. So the last cunt to climax, will likely be she who has exceptional tolerance for pain. That female will be rewarded, by being spared mass rape. My preference for those who can endure is well known, and I will take her as my personal plaything.”

He pauses.

“Before we start, do any of you wish to beg for mercy?”

It is a joke, but I hear a few women moaning anyway. Salarin sits down.

“Good.”

We’re left a final moment, to anticipate what will happen any second. I feel hyper aware of my body – of my nakedness, of the friction from the phallus against my anus, and of the other phallus tight against the walls of my pussy, of the sensations from the cups clutching my nipples and my sex. It’s as if my organs wanted to communicate to me, as though they’re pleading with me to spare them this. But I’m powerless to help them, and the future is already decided.

To the loudest roar from the crowd so far, Salarin raises his hand. As I take hold of the poles ready for the first bursts of pleasure, he says, “Begin.”

14 - Race

It is one of the phases where I choose to grip the metal rods and arouse myself. In devising the Cum Race, the Slavers have exploited their knowledge of the female body mercilessly, and forced or not, the pleasure triggered from my sex organs is irresistible.

I can only permit myself the ecstasy for a limited time, seeing as most of the women around me seemed to have adopted a similar strategy to myself. Delay the pain for as long as possible by riding up the pleasure curve until growing dangerously close to orgasm, and only switch to pain when there’s no other option. When the pain becomes unbearable, repeat. Over, and over, and over.

The torture is far worse than I could have imagined. It’s as though my sensitive organs are being smeared in white hot metal. It’s impossible to avoid screaming from such agony. From all around me in the arena, the two sounds come of others enduring the ordeal – women moaning like whores in heat, and then abruptly their pleasure stops, and the screaming begins.

There were a few of us who cracked early. Women with low pain tolerance, who would rather face gang rape than torture. A few also lacked insufficient understanding of their own bodies, and their orgasms overtook them before they knew it. With each loser, Slaver guards, impossibly outnumbering the girl, release her from her bonds, lift her off the giant phalluses, and carry her to the baying mob.

From our places kneeling in the sand, we can glimpse the victims through the scrum of bodies, and as long as we’re not screaming ourselves, we can hear their cries. It doesn’t take long for those of us still competing to conclude the torture might be better.

Sweet kindred, this stimulation feels incredible. I wish it could go on forever. I’ve never felt so turned on my life. My pussy is slick with its own lubrication. Even the phallus stuffing my anus is no longer unpleasant, but combines to become part of the overwhelming sensation from my lower body. At the focus of everything is my clitoris, buzzing like an insect sucking liquid pleasure. It would be so easy to just surrender to it – why not just surrender, Ajeedie? I could dissolve into the orgasm and let the future take care of itself.

But I know where that would lead. There is such a fight over one of the prettiest girls, rival groups of men pulling her spread legs in different directions, that I think she’s going to be torn apart.

I’m not so ignorant of my own body that I don’t recognize the orgasmic wave beginning to build. I must act before it’s too late. Bracing myself for the pain is pointless. It makes it no easier, and I will go rigid with the agony anyway. Despairing, I release my grip on the poles and am transported to a different universe.

There is nothing but the pain. My clitoris, my vagina, my anus, and my nipples are all I can think of. I have no chance of reducing the crowd’s sadistic entertainment by hiding my suffering. The only time my screaming stops is when biology forces me to inhale. And it is barely possible to do even that basic survival process – my body is locked rigid in the effort to eject my own sex organs. It’s unbearable! It’s unbearable! It’s unbearable! And I grasp the poles.

I had hoped that after each phase of torture my arousal would be extinguished, and I’d have a similar amount of time before getting dangerously close to climax. But extreme torture does not dry my vagina, and each time the stimulation resumes, I climb the orgasmic curve more quickly. Salarin said the stimulators would become gradually more intense, and that was the truth.

I make the mistake of glancing at the screen at a moment when I’m the focus. I’m stark naked. My face is red, and contorted in the expression of a woman in intense pleasure. I’m covered with sweat, and my blonde hair has matted to my skull and my shoulders. In the ultra-high definition of the big screen, I see my vulva wrapped round the penetrating phallus like a mouth greedily sucking a lollipop.

And it seems even in my misery I can still feel ashamed.

The screen spares me by switching to another of the Okhoron. Her eyes are rolled back in her head and in spite of the poles inside her she tries to buck her hips, such is the intensity of the orgasm she’s experiencing. Like all the Okhoron, she is beautiful. Her name is Khaleena, I recall. She is approaching the end of her bloom but is still intensely attractive, and the sight of her squirming is arousing to me. As the climax fades she becomes aware of herself again, and her eyes open and widen in fear. She shakes her head, protesting as the guards come for her.

The distraction of watching her took me almost to the orgasmic tipping point myself, but just in time I release the poles and my erogenous zones catch fire. I’ve never experienced such pain in my life, and yet the seconds enduring it pass. Seeking any mental escape route from the white-hot torture I try to use my Djenerion gifts and cling to anything in the now. Please Ajeedie, ignore your own screams. Your agony is only one element of everything. Count the number of rocks on the sand in front of me; think of the thousands of individual voices around me; the way there is no smell in the desert except for the sweat and sex from my own body; the taste of blood in my mouth from a tiny cut in my cheek; the sight of myself on screen – rigid with agony and my face inhuman; no, not that, the saddle I’m straddling – it’s material warm and made of some form of leather; the poles deep inside me – the temperature of my body now. The poles to my sides which are hot from the sun when I grasp them, and slick with my sweat.

On and on it goes. Cycle after cycle. There is a timer in the corner of each giant screen. When I next approach as close to orgasm as I dare, I see that fifty-one standard minutes have passed since Salarin said “Begin”. I’ve been drained by the ordeal. I must gasp for each breath, either through lungs locked rigid under torture, or muscles weak with arousal.

I grasp the poles and my pain evaporates. There are not many of us left now. The screen cycles from woman to woman to woman, repeating the loop, and I only count seven faces on their knees in the sand.

At fifty-seven minutes, during another pleasure cycle, I first notice something curious. Salarin had said the intensity of the stimulators would increase over time. And indeed the other women around me evidence this, seeming to be able to tolerate shorter and shorter phases of torture. My torture also grows worse, and yet I am the opposite of the others, spending longer and longer in the pain zone, as though I have some mental fracture blocking between the growing stimulus and the compulsion to save myself.

To keep the arena entertained, the shots of aroused or screaming women on their saddles must be interspersed with more and more footage of women in the stands being raped. The fighting to reach the most desired females first has been ferocious, and some women caught between rivals have bruised bodies and injured limbs.

The buzzing against my clitoris is intense – pure velvet delight. In the times of pleasure, there is now an interval of only seconds from the commencement of the arousal to looking down and seeing my abdomen muscles pulsing with the need to surrender. Every stimulus is erotic when I’m being aroused. Even the sensual moans of the girls, the images of their bodies on screen. When one climaxes, that too arouses me, imagining how much pleasure I might feel to orgasm.

Another girl yields. Another. Another. And then there are only two of us.

My final competitor seems half-unconscious, and my awareness of all but the pleasure/pain is fading, but during a pleasure phase, I am still momentarily able to question whether I want to win. Salarin raped me. I know he’s a sadist, the most brutal of the Slaver chiefs. He said he would make the victor his plaything. Who would want that? I could surrender now to the pleasure between my legs and endure a brutal ordeal until sunset, but then vanish into obscurity. Then again, I swore after my first time I’d never give anything to a man, when I could hold back. Even under the compulsions of an implant, I still have some ability to control my destiny.

The other girl remaining on her saddle is called Uteena. She is very tall and lithe, and like me, one of the younger Okhoron. We were acolytes together. Her naturally passionate disposition would likely make her a delightful lover. Now she is slumped, half-limp, on her saddle, eyes closed as she grips her poles.

Had I had a little more time to debate a future as Salarin’s torture toy and then surrender, my fate might have been completely different, along with those of many other Okhoron. Repeated rape, torture, and unending abuse, but auctioned to a new master. But the fate of planets can depend on random chance. Lives and fortunes are won or lost on the toss of a one credit coin.

Uteena is on screen, loosely grasping her poles, when she suddenly seems to wake up. I see her muscles contorting, as though she’s attempting to shrink into an infinitely small ball while pushing herself into the floor of her saddle. She screams, the sound barely different to the sound of torture. And she releases her poles and slumps again, this time completely unresponsive.

The roar of the crowd reaches a deafening pitch, and as abruptly as my ordeal began it’s gone. The stimulation against my clit vanishes, and for a moment I rock my pelvis forward, not comprehending it’s over, and seeking its return to complete my fulfillment.

Two guards come rushing over to me. The larger one deliberately gropes my breast in the process of releasing me from my bonds. He has an erection. But I do nothing to fight him away. In fact I can barely summon the strength to twitch a finger. The oafs pull me up by my arms onto my feet, but discover I’m utterly incapable of standing. One of the guards has to lift me in his arms and carry me up to the royal box. I am strongly built, but he’s a bigger male, and he bears my weight easily.

On the way up the steps, another male barges into us, someone rushing down the other way. My carrier swears angrily at him.

I’d seen Salarin during Donaya Oshanka’s capture, but from a distance. On the balcony, for the first time I’m suddenly in the close presence of him, and the planet’s other rulers. Salarin, Cronorgan, and a third man whose name I don’t know. This new fellow is the biggest brute I’ve ever seen. He’s grizzled and covered in scars and injuries, as though he’s fought a thousand battles. The big one barely glances at me, for he is currently fucking a poor slave woman who’s sitting in his lap. I recognize her. She was one of this year’s Rape Runners – an olive-skinned beauty with smoldering dark eyes and midnight hair. The girl’s face is unnaturally distorted, for he has her head wrapped in a bag of clear plastic material, which he keeps cinched tight to her throat so she’s unable to breath. Her face is an ugly purple color, and her eyes are bulging with terror.

No one is intervening, and I’m in no position to help her. Even if I wasn’t implanted, I don’t have the strength to fight a fly.

In front of Salarin, I am dumped ungracefully to my knees. Limp, I endure the inspection of the man I realize is my new master. After my torments, any show of strength or defiance is impossible. I do not even attempt to conceal my nakedness from him. I just wait there on the floor, my ribcage heaving with the aftermath of exertion. It’s almost too much effort to look around, but I look around the box for cany warning as to what being his “plaything” means for my fate.

“Excellent!” Salarin exclaims with delight. “You? Well, this the best result possible. Perhaps the finest specimen, you’re also the toughest, and the resemblance is uncanny. Really, you’re quite the gift from the Gods. How I shall enjoy your torments.”

The Sadist also has a woman accompanying him. Cronorgan seems to be the only one alone. Salarin’s slave kneels on a leash. I note her body is exquisitely toned. She holds her thighs wide to display her sex organ, and her arms are folded behind her back into a pose that naturally arches her spine and presents her breasts. Something odd has happened to her body – her nipples and her clitoris are a gleaming silver color, as though we’re seeing a metal sculpture of a woman’s sex organs, instead of real flesh.

She has a hood over her head. I cannot see her face, she cannot see mine. Perhaps her captor prevented her viewing the sport as an act of cruelty.

“My pet’s accessories interest you?” asks Salarin, and with a start I realize he’s been studying me. “The silver is from permanent pain stimulators implanted into her organs. Perhaps I’ll do that to you. Or perhaps it would be a greater punishment to turn you into one who enjoys dealing out pain?”

I shake my head. Me, become a sadistic monster? Better to be one of the women who takes pleasure from pain. At least my suffering would spare others. I wish no ill to this poor creature with the silver nipples.

And then Salarin pulls away her hood and I cry out.

It is not a co-incidence that there are Nine leaders of the Djenerion. The Sect believe that for each of us, there are nine key individuals whose lives are interwoven with our own, and who wield great influence over our fates, malign or benign. The universe will summon us from across galaxies to first meet each other, and then keep drawing us back together. We don’t even need be with them for long. It just requires the right place, right time, to change everything. Two are usually our parents. Tisya, I was told was a third of mine. It seems this woman is a fourth.

“No! No!” I moan in incomprehension. “You’re supposed to be dead.”

It’s impossible. I’d seen the footage of her final moments. She was sentenced to death by gang rape on The Hub, and was well on her way to the beyond from the rapes when a self-destructing species of alien female blew everything to smithereens. The men seem fully aware of the secret, and only one other person present shows surprise. Someone whose hood prevented them watching the race. Recognizing me for the first time, Ja-Alixxe also looks as if she’s seen a ghost.

“No,” she also gasps, “Okhoron? You shouldn’t have made it to the Okhoron – that’s impossible.” Ja-Alixxe falters on her last word, realizing the mistake she’s making, but by the time we’ve both gather our wits, it’s too late.

“The similarity is no coincidence? You know this female?” Salarin asks his slave.

I’m pleading with wide eyes, trying to signal her to keep quiet – nothing good can come of him knowing - but of course she’s implanted, and compelled to speak the truth.

“That’s Ja-Jeedie, Master. She is my cousin. Her hair was dark when I last saw her, and now she’s blonde… but there’s no doubting it. That’s her.”

“Really? What a happy co-incidence, and how touching. Cousins, and soon to be lovers. Ja-Jeedie, huh? That explains a little. Perhaps there is a gene you share for enduring pain.”

Ja-Alixxe and I are looking at each other horrified, as the enormity of what’s about to happen sinks in. She shakes her head in disbelief.

Before anyone can say more, everyone on the balcony is distracted by the giant man climaxing with a ghastly grunt. I look to him and see the poor girl his is raping has gone limp. Her face through the clear plastic is almost black. Gods, I think she’s dead. The man stands, picking up the ragdoll form of the woman easily. Without bothering to conceal his monstrous erection, he walks towards the balcony and pitches the girl over the edge to the arena floor. After spitting on the ground, he returns to his chair.

I’ve seen some barbaric sights from Aghara-Penthay, but this is a new low. Even the other two faction leaders look on with disapproval. Returning to his seat, the man looks at me properly, and I realize I’m staring.

“Want to be next?” the giant says to me with a leer. His voice sounds like rough gravel. “I like the pretty ones with big tits.”

“I’ll sell her to you, Monad,” Salarin says with a shrug. “But now I know her connection, she’ll be extraordinarily expensive.”

“I’m the richest man on Aghara-Penthay,” the one called Monad grins. “I could afford even that one,” and he gestures at Ja-Alixxe.

“She’s not for sale,” Salarin answers coldly.

“You’re dick-sick,” Monad says with contempt. “She’s got to you. Remember the laws – two years, then move on. Every female can be bought eventually. Then I might use her in front of you, just to teach you humility.”

I’m wondering what “dick-sick” means – Cronorgan used the phrase when I was first captured, and it seemed to be an insult. But Cronorgan cuts in then, claiming back my attention.

“Fellow Slavers,” he says, “let’s keep it civilized. There’s more than enough cunt on this planet for all of us. Let’s find out what is the connection between these two women. It might be something we can use.”

“Always happy to deal with you, noble Slaver,” Salarin tells Cronorgan, with notably more respect than the tone he used with Monad.

“Answer me, Ja-Alixxe,” Salarin says. “What’s so surprising about your cousin being here?”

“Because she can’t be Okhoron. It’s impossible.”

“Why?” Salarin presses. “No secrets, now. Not when we’re all going to be so intimate.”

Horrified I stare at my cousin. Please, no, if you have any willpower in you, don’t tell him. But again, she speaks the truth.

“The Djenerion only accept virgins. But someone raped Ja-Jeedie, many years ago, before we reached The Sect. I know, because it was my fault. I meant it to keep her from joining the Djenerion. I never thought she’d be stubborn enough to carry on. Ja-Jeedie must have been so ashamed she hid the secret. But if a woman who’s not a virgin becomes a priestess, the Gods punish them. They call them Dark Djenerion. Those whose are cursed to live in the physical senses instead, of the eternal ones.”

“No!” I plead.

Salarin laughs uproariously. Cronorgan is also listening closely, but Monad seems barely interested.

“This just gets better and better - A Dark Djenerion? You ruined her afterlife, eh? She’s probably displeased with you, then, Ja-Alixxe,” says Salarin, and then asks me, “Ajeedie, tell me, do you hate my pet?”

“I did,” I admit. “But she’s been punished enough. I just feel pity for her now.”

“We can change that easily enough though,” says Salarin. “Tonight in my bedchamber, a new phase of your lives will begin. I will make you lovers. I will make you desire each other. I will make you hate each other.”

“No!” I plead, for I didn’t believe my worst nightmare could get worse, but the torturer has found the way. I blurt out, “Master, have mercy!”, and thus, I debase myself.

“And to maximize your suffering, I will first have all of the truth,” insists Salarin. “So now, between you, tell me everything.”

And with nothing left to lose, I do.

15 - Past

Mostly I blame Ja-Alixxe, but both our lives would also have followed completely different paths if it wasn’t for the bounty hunter.

I’ll never forget the day we met him. Ten years ago, as we left on the transport that was supposed to be taking us to the Sect. We were barely women, Ja-Alixxe and I, but we were already the pride of our families. Virgin daughters chosen for the Djenerion Sect. In the future we would return to our homeworld as priestesses. Perhaps one of the few chosen to participate in the mysterious ritual, who then become Okhoron, and perhaps even a member of the inner circle.

Describing us as virgins-destined-to-be-priestesses might give an impression of two girls who we were ethereal and demure. But the reality was, we were giggly girls of that worse vacuous kind – constantly gossiping and laughing loudly. Ja-Alixxe and I had always been especial friends - thick as thieves - and getting to travel between worlds together, just the two of us unsupervised for the first time – it only made us more excited. We ran wild on that transport, unaware of the attention we must have attracted, and unaware how vulnerable two girls who were green to the evils of the universe must have been.

We seemed to encounter him by chance – just another passenger, who happened to be on a stool next to us in the transport’s java bar. Looking back, I’m sure he’d noticed us, and probably been watching for a while, before he engineered a meeting.

His name was Gorack. I’ll never forget Gorack. On my homeworld it’s the name of a fat and ugly grazing animal, strong and indefatigable but stupid. It suited him.

“Are you sisters?” he asked from the next table, and then without waiting for permission he shifted seats to join us. “You look like sisters. Similar pretty faces, and that same dark hair.”

He reached out and took hold of one of Ja-Alixxe’s midnight locks, also without permission, and he rolled it in his fingers. She smiled, trying to make out like this way an everyday thing, and she wasn’t flattered by the attention.

“Not twins, though?” he continued. “You,” and he turned to me, “have a more athletic body, and the bigger hooters. And you,” indicating Ja-Alixxe, “look more like a model.” He smiled. “I’m like a detective. I can see these things.”

I didn’t appreciate these comments. Especially the ones about my ‘hooters’. A stranger shouldn’t have been discussing the size of my chest.

“And who are you?” I asked rather coldly.

“Gorack,” answered Gorack. “Gorack the bounty hunter.”

“Well, we were just leaving, Gorack the bounty hunter” I told him, but Ja-Alixxe cut in, “wait, what bounties do you hunt?” and thanks to the gift of her opening, he was in. Next minute he was away with some bullshit story about some multiple murderer he claimed to have tracked across worlds. I wasn’t taken in. Bounty hunters in the galaxy divide into two types. Those with a conscience, who operate within the law – chasing convicted criminals, murders, rapists, slavers. And those who catch anyone where there’s a client willing to pay enough. The scum kind.

It was obvious to me that Gorack was the latter.

Ja-Alixxe was fascinated with him though. To her, each one of Gorack’s stories portrayed a universe of opportunity that would be a lot more exciting and dangerous than a future in the Sect, and helplessly I watched him light a fire that could never be extinguished. I loved her like a sister, but I wasn’t blind to her faults. I was the tough one in the family who could stoically deal with anything, and Ja-Alixxe was the wild one, with no sense of responsibility. It seemed a mistake for me that she was put forward to become an acolyte at all. I think with her limited exposure to the universe, combined with Ja-Alixxe’s lack of focus, she’d drifted along with her family’s wishes. Until Gorack made her realize what she really wanted to do.

Sure enough, when we were finally shot of him for the day and alone in our cabin, it came out.

“Let’s run away,” she eagerly suggested. “There are countless galaxies out there waiting for us, Ja-Jeedie. We could make a fortune working together, doing what Gorack does. Two cousins, hunting, and looking out for each other. We’d be unstoppable.”

“And that loser’s life doesn’t show you what would really happen?” I said scornfully. “He barely has two credits to rub together.”

“Anyone can fall on hard times,” she continued, “but they can climb back up. And Gorack has the skills.”

“What skills?” I sorted. “The only skill he has is being a dirty old letch – always staring at my chest, and constantly touching us. Any excuse – a hand in the small of the back to guide us through a door, a supportive arm when we stand up. He’s the creepiest guy I’ve ever met.”

She waved the comment away, dismissively.

“We can handle him, as long as we look out for each other. But we can’t do without those skills. We don’t know how to pilot a ship. We don’t know how bounty hunters find clients willing to pay. We don’t know how to track someone across space.”

“We know enough of what men want,” I said coldly. “You’ll be lucky if you don’t wake up in chains, headed for sale on Aghara-Penthay.”

That ended the discussion for that night, I hoped ended it for good, but the snowball was already rolling, and between them they turned it into an avalanche. Next morning Gorack was waiting for us at breakfast, and after that he was stuck to us like a leech. Nothing I could do or say would shake him off. He knew Ja-Alixxe was the one to work on, and as long as he kept her on side, my protests that I was dodging his hands the minute she wasn’t looking, all counted for nothing.

“He’s just messing,” she said airily. “You might as well use the opportunity to learn to deal with that kind of attention. The Sect aren’t gonna keep you locked away forever, and you have the kind of body that drives men wild. They’re always gonna try. He won’t be the last.”

During that flight Ja-Alixxe seemed more alive than I’d ever seen her before, but she was also moody and unhappy. I could tell she was building up to one of her critical point explosions, where she’d either cast Gorack and his hungry eyes aside for The Sect, or throw away everything for a new path. Sure enough, it all came to a head on the last evening of the voyage. Next day we’d be landing at some random world, inconsequential except for serving as a transport hub, and we’d switch to our final transport to the Djenerion world.

Two odd occurrences had happened during the day. Both contributed to the chain of events that followed. Having sponged credit from us the whole voyage, Gorack suddenly found a supply of wealth from who-knows-where, and “as a gesture of goodwill” paid to upgrade Ja-Alixxe and I to a luxury cabin for our final night. I was very suspicious of this, and with sinking heart expected to find we were in a room for three, but instead of clinging to us like he’d done for days, he abruptly withdrew early after our evening meal.

“Giving us time to talk,” was Ja-Alixxe explanation, and I groaned.

“This again?”

Back she was, to the same old argument.

“You don’t want a life in the Djenerion, Ja-Jeedie,” she repeated. “That’s your family’s wishes. Not yours.”

“Well, if you believe that, it looks like you don’t know me as well as you think.”

“Come with me into space, and have a future,” she pressed. “Live, before it’s too late.”

“I don’t want to go to space. Most of space is dark and dangerous, and you’d be dumb to go there. Come with me to the Sect and have a future,” I countered. “What you’re chasing is nothing but a childish fantasy of adventure. And even if I did want to become some lame-ass vagrant, Gorack sure as hells isn’t the way I’d do it.”

“You’re so stubborn, Ja-Jeedie,” my cousin said angrily. “Is there anything that changes your mind?”

“And you’re flighty, always changing yours while seeking the next thrill. So go get into trouble with that creep if you like, but I’m joining the Sect. And when I’m a priestess, don’t come crying to me, when instead of wearing the richest jewels, you find he’s sold you out and you’re in the restraints of a sex slave.”

Ja-Alixxe leapt up. I’d never seen her so pissed-off in my life, and my temper was up too. Maybe if our words had led into an old-fashioned physical fight, scratching and pulling each other’s’ hair, we could still have turned back. But I let her get up and make for the door. It was the worst mistake of my life.

“I’m gonna save you, Ja-Jeedie. I’ll save you from yourself. You won’t thank me at first, but one day you’ll understand, that I saved you.”

“Take your things. You don’t have to come back to our cabin - not when there’s your boyfriend Gorack’s bunk,” I called after her. “Have a nice future, slave girl.”

After she’d gone, I sat in silence for a long time in the dark cabin, replaying the fight over and over, testing each line for a better and better comeback that would have won my point. How dare she claim she knew me better than I knew myself? This farce was nothing to do with me. The situation was all because she lacked the discipline to commit to space for herself, so she wanted me along to share the blame. She’d callously ignored my discomfort in Gorack’s presence in pursuit of her own goals.

I tried to practice the introductory Djenerion mind exercises, which even laymen learn, but I was too angry to concentrate. I tried to read, but the story I was halfway through didn’t hold my interest enough. I switched on the vid screen, but every stream seemed to be showing that year’s Rape Run. The channels either gloried lasciviously in the women’s suffering and nakedness, or took a stance that it was an abomination that the Run existed in a civilized galaxy. But the haters showed as much nudity as was possible, all the same. And the last thing I wanted to see was more men pawing women.

I went to my bed, lying in the dark for a long time before drifting into a restless sleep. At each real or imagined sound I’d start into wakefulness. She should come back, so we could have closure on the fight. It annoyed me that she was probably out there somewhere on the ship enjoying herself, while I waited brooding in the dark.

When I was woken by the noises of someone in the cabin, at first I assumed that Ja-Alixxe had returned. But I was brought to awareness by a creak and the mattress of my bunk sinking, as a weight sat next to me. Alarm bells rang inside my head - I had enough sense to know that heavier load wasn’t Ja-Alixxe. But I wasn’t fast enough to open my eyes before the cover was pulled back to expose me.

“You?” I said, and sat up with a start. In spite of my lectures to Ja-Alixxe I still didn’t quite understand, but instinctively I shrank back to the corner of by bed anyway, drawing up my knees, and he moved closer.

“Gorack? How did you get in here?” I pressed.

He didn’t answer at first. He just looked up and down my body. My nightshift was a simple affair of a white material – loose fighting except around my full chest, but it did sit quite high on my thighs. I’d given little thought to the garment before, but something about the way his eyes moved over it made me wish it was longer.

“Stop that!” I frowned.

Still he didn’t say anything. Instead he placed his hand on my bare thigh, high up towards my hip.

“What are you doing?” I protested, automatically closing my hand over his large wrist. “Get your hand off me.”

“It’s okay, Ja-Jeedie,” he said. “There’s no need to be afraid.”

I frowned more. I wasn’t afraid. I just didn’t want him touching me. I tried to push the hand away, but he was strong, and his weight was gradually bearing down on me. I looked round anxiously for an escape route, but he was so close that I was trapped against the corner, with little room to move. His hand felt hot, and I could smell the masculine odor of the rest of his body.

Gorack looked me up and down again, that same weird expression between hunger and awe.

“How did you get in my room?” I repeated.

“You have your cousin to thank,” he answered. “She gave me the pass. Don’t worry. The door is locked. No one will disturb us.”

“Why would…” I was halfway through saying, when his hand slid up my thigh and over my hip until it was as high as my waist. Simultaneously his other hand moved to me, and held me under my ribcage, as though we were partners in a formal dance.

I shrieked at that, for the hand sliding up my hip had taken my nightshift with it, I wore no underclothes, so I was as good as naked below my waist. Only my tightly closed legs gave me any dignity. My priority and instinct were shouting to cover my privates, so I tried to push my shift down with both hands, but that temporarily relinquished the defense of my upper body, and next thing his hand was cupping my breast. The touch was so intimate that I could feel my nipple pressing into his palm.

“No!” I said, trying to give my voice authority, but sounding high, and quivery, and frightened. “Stop that!”

My fears had all come true. I understood by then what he was going to try and take from me. I understood the look in his eyes was lust. And I knew I was in trouble.

“Ja-Alixxe?” I shouted out towards the doorway. My voice was loud in the small cabin, and I hoped it would shock him.

“She’s not coming,” he said carelessly. “I told her to give us a couple of hour’s privacy. And shouting won’t help you. The bulkheads in these ships are thick, and there’s not many people up here at the luxury end of the ship. Not like that other cabin you were in. No one’s gonna hear you here, Ja-Jeedie, even if you scream your lungs out. So, how about you start being a bit more friendly, and take this thing off?”

He tried to lift my shift even further upwards then, as though to pull it over my head. Of course, I resisted this, temporarily abandoning my body to save my clothing by gripping the fabric with both hands. But immediately he switched tactics, releasing the lower hem, then taking hold of the garment at my neckline, and pulling hard. By the time my hands followed his it was already too late. There was the sound of tearing and I felt my shift giving way.

“No!” I wailed. He’d rent open my shift almost to my navel. I tried to clutch the two halves closed over my chest, but the next attack was already underway, and more came thick and fast behind it. The rest was inevitable. Each time I tried to protect one area, I just left somewhere else vulnerable. We tussled for several minutes like this, him groping and tearing, touching and tearing. He seemed in no rush. He was enjoying my fear, my shame.

By the time he let me pause, I was breathing heavily. During the struggle I’d slid further down onto my back, and I way lying in the ruins of my shift. There was still some fabric over my upper arms, but the rest was pretty much in tatters around me. I had one arm across my breasts and the other over my crotch. It felt unbearable, being so nearly naked in front of him.

“I’ve not had a woman for a while,” he said. He was smiling almost paternally, still just sitting there with a soothing voice like he’d come to say goodnight. Not like he’d just sexually assaulted a girl. “But that’s about to change. The two of you will make nice companions, for sharing my bed. She doesn’t want to spend her life as a priestess. She wants to be a bounty hunter. And she wants you there too.”

I groaned. Tears swelled in my eyes and I looked away. Of course Ja-Alixxe wanted that. But really? She betrayed me?

“You were the price I agreed. Well, you first, and then her later. Of course, she doesn’t know yet she’s also a part of the deal, but once we’re alone she’ll be as easy to take as you. And bounty hunters don’t always trade criminals for credit. If she doesn’t learn her place, your cousin will make a very valuable slave.”

With this he reared over me. He was already bigger and stronger than me, and now I was on my back gravity was in his favor. I tried to push him away, but he sank down on me. For the first time in my life, I felt the weight of a male lying on me. He was heavy. I could feel the hardness of his sex organ. His breath was on my face, his mouth right next to my cheek. It was disgusting. His hand forced a path between us, fumbling at his crotch, and I knew I only had moments to escape.

“I don’t think she’d have traded you, unless she believed she’s saving you from yourself. Once you’ve been deflowered, you’ll have to come with us. There’s no point joining the Djenerion when you’re not a virgin. But I don’t really care what her reasons are. I just want to fuck you raw, Ja-Jeedie.”

I was beginning to weep, with fear, with frustration, with the inescapability of what was about to happen. He’d freed himself from his pants. That was his exposed cock I could feel pressing against my thigh. Ja-Alixxe, Ja-Alixxe, I cried to myself. How could she do this to me?

“A Rape Run grade piece of tail you are, Ja-Jeedie. I’d never have believed when I got on this transport, I’d finish up fucking you.”

“No!” I pleaded, but conversation ended as he made his ultimate move, and I began to struggle in a last-ditch attempt to save myself.

Later, after I’d been trained to fight, to kill, I knew a dozen ways I could have prevented what happened that night. Zones eleven through one, single attacker above. Nerves, joints, pressure points. But I was unskilled back then, and he was much stronger than I was. I fought and fought, but it was no good. In a way, I wish I’d been restrained like a defeated Rape Runner, or like I was helpless when the Slavers first took me. That would have at least permitted me some self-respect – looking back and blaming the bonds. But even resisting him with all my efforts, I was still the weaker, because I was female, and I was defeated easily. I had to endure him pawing at my breasts with those sweaty, meaty hands, and squeezing my buttocks, and when he pierced into me, I screamed because it hurt so much.

My defeat had aroused him, so in reality it only took a few minutes for the rape to be over, but to me, the victim, it felt like an eternity. Each time he thrust forward into my body, the cot would squeak. Squeak, squeak, squeak, I had to listen to it over and over, along with his animal grunts, and then a moan like he was dying when he came. Squeak, squeak. Since then, I’ve always slept on the floor, if a bed makes that noise. The sound just takes me right back.

When his climax came, Gorack stiffened and lay still on me, gasping. For another eternal minute, neither of us moved. I cried out again as he withdrew. It felt like something was torn inside me, and there was something warm and wet seeping between my legs. He ruffled my breast like he was patting a pet animal.

“I’ll report you,” I said quietly. “You’ll be sent to the prison for sex criminals on Cancis Rock.”

He chuckled as he re-secured his pants. He stroked my thigh and I kicked out, trying to evade his touch. This too amused him.

“We both know you won’t,” he said. “Because you can’t, not if you intend to join your little cult. You’ll have to hide your shame, there. And if you do decide to talk, your cousin will side with me, say it was your idea, so the authorities will assume you made the whole story up to cover up for being a slut. You’ll be sent back to your family in disgrace, Ja-Jeedie. The family whore. No. it’s silence, and the cult, or your only viable option - to come with me. So start learning to keep your mouth shut, like a good girl. Until I ask you to use it to give me pleasure, that is.”

I hated that he was so smug and self-assured. He’d won, and he knew it. I was angry, ashamed, and desperate to somehow recover some part of the victory. Faking a voice that I thought might sound seductive, I tried to get under his guard.

“Maybe you do have a point,” I said, “space could be exciting, and the sex wasn’t so bad,” and I reached out and held his face in my hands, tenderly, as though I was about to kiss him. But it was a trick. Gripping firmly with one hand, I raked my razor-sharp nails down along his cheek, trying to gouge as deep and as hard as I could.

Gorack cried out, and that pleased me, but with my arms extended for scratching I wasn’t fast enough to block his retaliation – a haymaker punch he landed right on the side of my skull. My head reeling, the force of his strike flung back onto the bed.

“Hit me if you like, but that’s all the pleasure you’ll get from me, as long as I live,” I said in a low, trembling voice.

“Bitch,” said Gorack, wiping the blood from his cheek. He chuckled cruelly, not as hurt as I’d hoped. “Well, that was worth it for such a nice fuck. And I’m just gonna take the scratch outta your ass when you’re mine. You’ll regret that move.”

“I’ll kill myself before you touch me again,” I say.

“You’ve got until tomorrow to end yourself, then, when you’re coming with me, bitch.”

He rose from my cot, and the man who had taken my virginity left the room without even a glance back.

Afterwards, I turned to face the wall, I curled up, and I lay there for nearly thirty minutes without moving. My mind was too numb even to cry, but my senses seemed to be in overdrive. I could feel everywhere his hands had been on me. Muscles tired from desperate struggling. Nipples stiff, part of the breasts I now hated. Aching shoulders where my nightshift had been torn. A feeling of being soiled all over, as though I’d never be clean again. And a burning pain between my legs, as though I’d been torn. I could feel wetness there. Blood, or sperm, I didn’t want to look. What did it matter if I bled out? What else did I have to do?

When there was the sound of someone entering the room, I didn’t even look.

“Ja-Jeedie?” I heard my cousin say cautiously.

There was a long silence. She sat on the edge of my bed and tried to rest a hand on my hip, but I swatted her away angrily. I never wanted her to touch me again. I think I hated her as much as Gorack. He was the rapist, but she had callously sold me to him for her own gain.

“Why?” I eventually asked. “Why did you give me to him?”

“It was the only way I could think of to change our future,” she said unhappily. “I know you. Don’t deny it. You’re not meant to be some priestess, and spend your days locked away. That’s your family’s wish. Not yours.”

“You did this for yourself,” I said with my voice breaking. “Don’t try to pass off your guilt by making out this was for my benefit. You don’t know me. If you did, you wouldn’t have let me endure that. Look at me. At my body. Look where our first adventure in space has got me.”

I turned so she could see what she’d done. I was still lying in what little remained of my nightdress. There was no mistaking what had happened to me. On my arms and my thighs were the marks from a man’s hands. Tomorrow I was going to be bruised. I saw myself for the first time. Blood, and even more disgusting mess between my legs.

Ja-Alixxe looked away, embarrassed, as I rubbed my crotch obsessively with a scrap of cloth.

“I’m sorry you had to go through that, but it’s freed you of the Sect. Come with me now,” Ja-Alixxe. “Yeah, Gorack’s a douche, but as soon as he’s taught us to navigate his ship, we’ll betray him. I’ll kill him personally for what he’s done to you, if you don’t want the honor fo revenge. I swear. And then think of it – we can go anywhere in the universe.”

“No, we can’t go anywhere. We’re women,” I disagreed. “Has what happened to me taught you nothing? We were supposed to be safe on this transport, and I still got raped. If you’re so liberated and equal, prove it by going to Aghara-Penthay.”

“Now you’re being ridiculous. There are thousands of other worlds where women are perfectly safe.”

“And while we’re learning this navigation? What price do we pay? Do you learn to fly, while I’m on my back working our passage?”

“That was a one-off,” Ja-Alixxe blushed, “forcing a commitment. Come with me, and I’ll make sure he doesn’t touch you again.”

“You don’t know men,” I retort. “He’ll wait until we’re vulnerable. Both of us. Gorack intends to have you too, you know. He might even sell you into slavery.”

“I can look after us both,” she insisted.

“If you could look after me, I’d still be a virgin.”

She sighed then like I was being slow. Coldly, I spoke.

“I knew you were selfish, but you’re beyond that. You’re psychopathic, Ja-Alixxe,” I said. “You don’t care what I’ve just been through. You don’t care I had to feel that disgusting man’s penis inside me. You still think you’ve done me a favor. Get lost. Get out my cabin. I hope I never see you again.”

Finally, she seemed a little chastened.

“I’ll gather my things,” she said, and began tidying her belongings into a rucksack. She was silent, right up to getting to the cabin door. But Ja-Alixxe always wanted the final word.

“What are you going to do?” she asked with feigned calm.

“What do you think? Go to the Sect.”

“But if they find you’re not a virgin…”

“What do you care?” I cut her off.

“I care,” she said. “I’ll always cared. We’re family.”

“We’re not family. I have no family now,” I told her, and I turned back to face the wall. And thank the gods, finally she left.

After that night, I didn’t know or care if my cousin was alive or dead for a number of years. Until the year she was suddenly famous across the galaxy. Ja-Alixxe, my own cousin, was one of the twelve Rape Runners captured and forced to compete in the year 3354. The Slavers like to give a label to each Runner, to make them distinctive, and she was “The Bounty Hunter”. That was how I found out she’d carried on with her aims, and become a bounty hunter after all. I wondered what happened to Gorack. He didn’t deserve any more of my time, but I often thought of him anyway. “A Rape Run grade piece of tail, you are,” he had said, but it was Ja-Alixxe ended up as a contestant.

In the parade where they showed off the year’s Rape Runners, Ja-Alixxe was marked as a virgin, so she’d managed to keep his hands off her somehow. I’m not sure which I’d have preferred, that she killed my rapist, or he raped my betrayer.

I despised everything to do with the Rape Run, and didn’t want to know what happened to Ja-Alixxe, but of course I sat glued to the streams like most of the galaxy. And I saw she was same old Ja-Alixxe, of course. A born survivor, but one who got by at everyone else’s expense. The whole galaxy knows that story though. What you don’t know yet, is what happened when I joined the Sect.

16 - Sect

It’s called The Citadel, the home of the Djenerion, although being accurate, The Citadel is only the largest of a vast complex of buildings, surrounded by a high wall which turns the Sect’s home into a fortress.

More than a thousand of us were in the vast hall, but you could barely hear a sound. We knelt, heads demurely down in a pose oddly similar to one adopted by trained slaves on the foul world of Aghara-Penthay, only we kept our thighs neatly closed, rather than displaying the genitals like they must. Like the other acolytes around me, I kept my eyes closed and tried to concentrate on my exercises – the rituals that would perfect a Djenerion’s gift – connection to eternity.

The Djenerion gift is supposed to give profound insight and peace. An initiate can join herself to the flow of time, life and energy across the galaxy, coming to terms with their place in that universe. Priestesses understand the paradox - each life means everything, for each life is connected to every other life. Each life means nothing, for it is only one among infinity. Reconciling oneself to the divine contradiction was supposed to bring a peace that the Djenerion are able to share with the galaxy. And most importantly, virgin females are the only ones who can bear the burden of wisdom.

The unlearned who fail to comprehend our beliefs think that the Djenerion’s exclusion of males must result from some form of sexism, but in truth it is a matter of fundamental biology.

The Sect believe that only the pure in spirit are able to understand and share the wisdom that comes from perceiving the connections between all things. Once a soul is sexually awakened, they forever become tainted – their awareness becomes bound to the physical now, and the present, rather than the eternal. Thus, it is the nature of all males that at maturity they become impure. Even a teenage male who resists the urge to masturbate will release in his dreams.

But, you might ask, what if a woman who is soiled, masqueraded and presented herself as a virgin? Well, if she were to succeed in her deception and becomes a priestess, then souls who should benefit from the gods’ peace would be denied that true comfort. The sacred texts are clear that the gods abhor such a woman, and she would be forever cursed. The price for giving false enlightenment is damnation in life – denial of all happiness, perceiving only the evil and the pain in everyone and everything around them. She is “Dark Djenerion”. Luckily for The Sect’s followers, the training for acolytes is meant to prevent Dark Djenerion progressing to the rank of priestess. Acolytes are set scenarios that they must “read” using the Djenerion gifts, and offer the best wisdom. Those who have lost the gift will fail the reading.

I expected my disgrace to be discovered at any time, and I lived in constant fear. But presented with a moral dilemma – “a man finds his wife is cheating, but he is happy with her, should he leave?”; “I have a terminal disease, do I forgive my brother?” – I found the situations so utterly banal it was easy to mouth platitudes, and the priestesses seemed to lap my responses like they were airheaded fools. Other acolytes floated around with beatific smiles on their faces after meditation, filled with the gods’ blessings, and I learned to fake their vacuous expressions, hiding my inner turmoil.

Time continued to pass, but as I became less fearful of discovery, I also grew bitter. Why couldn’t they see that I had no true enlightenment, and all I was using was common sense, watching their body language to read them, and offering such generic answers that they would apply in any situation? “Remember good times always pass, but then so do the bad”. Was the whole Djenerion Sect bullshit? I was filled with growing contempt for those around me. They were fools, and I was the only one who could truly see. But then, I reminded myself, my attitude was exactly a fulfillment of the promised curse. I saw nothing but weakness and stupidity around me, and I despaired at the prospect of wasting my life handing out this empty advice. Ja-Alixxe had been right. A bounty hunter’s career would have been better for me. I hated her. I could just picture her smug expression, always believing herself to be the superior one.

Women joining The Sect have an alternative path, however, and it was one that would spare me a future as a fraudster. Most of the acolytes would follow the convention of becoming regular priestesses, and be allocated a planet where they would minister, spreading the comfort and belief of the Sect. Occasionally a priestess would advance to The Nine – the circle of leaders who dealt with the more administrative tasks of leading the Sect. From among The Nine would be chosen our spiritual leader – The Djeneria, who would guide us all until her death.

For just a few, there was a more military part of the Sect – the Djeneria’s bodyguards, and the closest our Sect had to women soldiers – the Okhoron. And for the Okhoron, there was no ministering to the faithful at all.

But joining the Okhoron required choosing by the Djeneria herself (one couldn’t put oneself forward), and she took guidance from the eternal in her decision. The Okhoron was not for the faint hearted. After choosing by the Djeneria, candidates had to survive an initiation ritual, the nature of which none outside the Okhoron knew. We were all aware of the ritual’s results, however. It changed women physically, bleaching the skin of even the darkest of women milky white, and turning their hair to a silvery blonde. The ritual weakened the women’s connection to the eternal, and based them more in the physical universe, but this sacrifice gave the Okhoron superfast responses, so they could react in combat as though prescient. I remember a demonstration to publicize the Sect, where an Okhoron soldier entered a bout with one of the champion female martial artists of the universe, and bested her easily. Okhoron could even stand up to men, and more than one of them at a time.

We knew only the strongest survived the initiation process. There was a special garden at the edge of the Sect’s buildings with a memorial to those who were found inadequate. We were told that approximately a third of initiates perished, by whatever mysterious means there was. There didn’t even seem to be bodies of the unsuccessful left for the Djenerion graveyard.

The Okhoron’s prowess came at a further price. Like a bulb burning too brightly, they aged rapidly, and most were exhausted within a couple of decades. It was said that Okhoron sacrificed themselves to live their time at double the speed of other beings.

The appeal to me was obvious, in spite of the risk and the cost. I could hide my shameful disgrace by focusing on the physical instead of the spiritual. Given how my future looked hopeless anyway, it didn’t matter if I got to the end of life sooner. And as Ja-Alixxe had predicted, the duties of a priestess were going to be dull. The Okhoron offered the prospect of adventure, for the Djeneria travelled frequently.

I saw our reigning Djeneria for the first time in the hall of acolytes. You might think Tisya is beautiful now, but back then she could turn anyone’s head. Accompanied by one of The Nine, she moved up and down the ranks of acolytes, to what purpose we knew not. We were supposed to be meditating, but a ripple of whispers spread through the hall anyway, and our tutors had to snap angrily to restore calm.

After a few minutes, Tisya stopped and a girl stood up, proud and blushing. Uteena. We could guess what was happening, for we’d noted Uteena possessed the physical strength needed to be elevated to the Okhoron. The military path wasn’t suited for those women who were as delicate as porcelain.

The majority of acolytes sought the enlightened existence, and had no interest in joining the guards, but I wasn’t the only one looking on the blushing Uteena with jealousy. As well as being tall and athletic, Uteena was one of the great beauties of our year, and even among affirmed virgins, such blessings can provoke resentment. It is a universal truth that the more attractive are favored in whatever field they practice. At first on arrival in The Citadel I too had endured some spitefulness, but in the privacy of our shower block I left one of my tormentors with a black eye, and no-one came near me after that.

Tisya left the hall, with Uteena demurely in her wake. The pretty acolyte had been blonde already, but next time I saw her, her hair was much paler - the silver blonde that confirmed she’d endured the ritual. She was instructing one of the many attendants who work at the Sect in the disposal of some crates. I tried to greet her, for, as acolytes her and I had been drawn together against the jealous ones, but she waved me away. She looked unhappy, haunted even.

A month passed before Tisya entered the hall again. Once more we were supposed to be communing with the eternal – a meditative state where a priestess feels she can touch the universe to trigger ripples through a million stars. But I remained in the now, rather than losing myself in the meditation. I deliberately retreated from the trance state, for I’d always found myself tortured by flashbacks – Gorack on top of me, pinning me down, the piercing pain. I could still feel his hand on my breast, still recall every detail of how his cock felt inside me, and although I was kneeling safely with my thighs together, it felt as though he was still there. I flinched from his pleasure, his victory, his misogyny, and…

A woman’s hand touched my shoulder, giving me such a fright that I nearly cried out.

“There is suffering as well as peace in the universe,” she said. “Sensing suffering is the burden of the priestess. I see you feel their suffering, yes?”

I opened my eyes to see Tisya standing there. She had a member of The Nine next to her, a wizened old crone, and the dry old witch had an expression so cold and stony, I thought for a moment we’d reached the moment I’d feared, and they were there to eject me. But Tisya’s expression was open, understanding. I hadn’t heard her approach, and there hadn’t been the whisper to warn she was walking the lines.

I nodded mutely, figuring that a show of awed silence was my safest response.

“Stand please,acolyte,” she said gently. Awkwardly I got to my feet. I’d been kneeling for a long time and my legs were stiff.

“Your name is Ajeedie, yes?” she asked, although she must have already known the answer.

I nodded again. I wanted to forget my past when I’d arrived at the sect, so I’d dropped our family prefix, “Ja”, and given my name as “Ajeedie” during registration.

Tisya smiled at me. She had a beautiful smile. I was there hiding my impatience. For the first time in months, I dared to hope. Please, please, choose me. Get me out of this future.

“The Djenerion believe that some people live lives of liquid, with uncertain destinies, and some follow strings, a path set from birth.” She spoke loudly, showboating for the eavesdropping acolytes. “Your life is a string, Ajeedie, any suffering you have endured fated to bring you here, to intersect with my string. We are intertwined, you and I, you see. You sense that string, just as I do. The Nine see it too.”

For a second, I thought I caught the crone rolling her eyes. But when I blinked, she only wore that same thin-lipped disapproval. I met her gaze coolly. This was Tisya’s call, not your decision, shriveled bitch. My heart swelled. I was young, beautiful, headstrong, and I was going to be Okhoron. I’d take my secret downfall with me into the military, and only Ja-Alixxe and Gorack need ever know about that sordid incident on the transport ship.

“So you know already what I’m going to ask,” Tisya concludes, “and I know already what you will reply. It is time to fulfil your destiny, Ajeedie. Come with us. In three nights, the moons will both be full. That is required, for the ritual. The conditions will not reoccur for another year. You must meditate, and prepare.”

I’ve often pondered whether if I could have seen the future, I would have continued, or if I could have broken my string and walked another path. But I looked round at those kneeling acolytes and could think of nothing worse than living out my days forcing one of those vacant smiles.

“Djeneria,” I said, and nodded my acquiescence.

17 - Cavern

It was cool in the cavern, and I could hear the sound of water dripping from the rocks.

A “cavern” is the best explanation I’m able to give you of it, for we approached it through tunnels, and caves, but a natural rock pit was perhaps a better word, for a large hole in the roof opened to the sky above us, and I could see the moons which orbit Djenerix directly overhead. Both moons were bright and full. It was a beautiful evening to die.

I’d had three days to prepare myself, left in a bare cell to meditate and consult with the gods, but with no knowledge of what awaited in ‘the ritual’, there was little to do but try not to get overcome with fear. Perhaps it was a deliberate part of the test – forcing me to show mental strength, as well as physical. The final day was the worst of that interval, waiting for sunset. There was a one in three chance I’d be dying that night. The prospect of death makes someone desperate to embrace life and the senses, and for the first time since I was raped, I masturbated.

When at sunset two women from the Okhoron came for me, I was anxious that the room might still smell of my arousal. But they showed no sign of emotion as I was made to change my clothing, and then led away. They dressed me in a full-length dress, made of a virginal thin white fabric. It was a simple affair – secured only by a knot at each shoulder and a tie wrapping around the waist. I wasn’t even permitted any underwear beneath the fabric, and although the dress covered me entirely modestly, I felt strangely open in it.

They took me first to the cellars under the oldest part of The Citadel, down to levels I’d never explored before, and then through a thick metal door into a tunnel carved from the rock. The steps down there were so worn that the passage must have been ancient. We followed it along in a path that twisted and turned, using natural tunnels as well as artificial work, so I was completely disorientated by the time we reached the cavern. But I knew there was no site inside The Citadel walls with a roofless cave though, and I could see trees above as well as the moons. We were somewhere in the surrounding forest.

The tunnel entered the cavern via the most impressive of the metal doors. This one was at least six inches thick, as though build to seal and protect The Citadel in times of war. The Okhoron had evidently been preparing the place for my ritual - braziers were lit around the rough rock walls, filling the space with a warm glow. The light showed that every inch of the walls glistened - slick with moisture, and flickering flames threw all the shadows into deeper contrast. Ahead, in the opposite direction to where we’d entered, a second larger tunnel, almost a perfect circular tube, led on and downwards into pitch blackness.

From above, I could hear the night calls of the planet’s forest creatures.

Unable to see anything down the darker passage, I contented myself with looking around the cave. This space was almost empty, except for the braziers, and two ancient wooden posts, distanced about six feet apart and almost as large as tree trunks, embedded deep into the ground. The top of each post was level with my shoulders, and each had a thick metal ring sunk into it. The rings were rusted, but not so badly that they were weakened.

“Stand between the posts, Ajeedie,” one of the women from the Okhoron said gently. It was the first thing she’d said since asking me to change clothing. These two must have passed through the ritual, but they resisted any questions about it. Their faces were a mixture of determined resolve, and sympathy.

I hesitated, but she added, “please” and I stepped forward.

“Let me see your wrist,” she said next.

If she’d said “give me your wrist” I might have had more warning, but docile, I presented my left arm, and quickly, she wrapped loops of an odd vine-like fiber around my wrist, knotting the vine so it wouldn’t fall away.

“What are you doing?” I asked nervously.

“Tying you between the posts,” she said. “Your wrists must be bound to the rings for the ritual, to make sure you remain in place.”

“Why would I not?” I questioned, but she only smiled that same sympathetic look, and shook her head.

Using the vine, she pulled my arm up and out, so my wrist extended at the level of my shoulder, and threaded it through the rusted ring in the top of the post. Without a word of explanation, she knotted the vine at this ring. By this time, my other escort was taking hold of my other wrist. In this fashion I ended up with my arms extended, almost like a capital “T”. The vines were not taut, not stretching me, and not uncomfortable either, but I could not lower my arms far before the vine went taut and prevented me going further. I’d never been restrained before, not even in an innocent game, and I tried to escape, more from curiosity than anything else. The knots tied at that rusted ring were just there, less than a foot from my fingertips. And yet I could not move close enough to the one at my right to release them, for my bound left arm held me back. And I could move no further to my left, with my right wrist restraining me. Furthermore, I discovered I could not reach anywhere on my torso. My nose began to itch, and delivering a scratch that should have been no matter had just become impossible. I felt suddenly aware of my vulnerable body, my breasts, my female-ness. I did not like being tied up, I concluded.

“And now this,” said the priestess, and she reached for one of the knots fastening my dress.

“What the?” I’d flinched instinctively, but of course my hands were tied to the post, and I couldn’t stop her releasing the fabric. I understood then the reason for the simplicity of the fastening at my shoulders. I didn’t have to slip any sleeves away over my arms. The women were able to strip me all too easily.

I stood blushing as my dress puddled around my ankles. I was the only one naked in the cavern, and I could not hide any part of my bare body save for by crossing one thigh over the other to conceal my sex.

“Do not be ashamed,” one of the women told me. “No men come here. Only the two of us will see you like this.”

I thought my embarrassments might have been sufficient by then, but it got worse when they sponged me down, coating me in liquid from a large bowl which was inlaid with precious metals. The liquid in the bowl was clear, and at first, I thought they were washing me, but the fluid clung to my skin and the odor hitting my nostrils was that of a strongly scented oil. This they smeared liberally and thoroughly over me, including painting my nipples (which grew humiliatingly firm in response to the attention); and worse, they bade me open my legs to coat the curves of my pudenda. They even oiled me deep into the cleft between my buttocks.

“I feel like piece of meat being prepared for barbeque,” I joked, but the two Okhoron only looked uncomfortably at each other, as though I’d said something vulgar. Okay – Okhoron had no sense of humor then.

Once I’d been basted from head to toe in that strong-smelling oil, they stepped away from me. I hadn’t enjoyed the intimate contact with other women, but I didn’t like them leaving me there, feeling naked and vulnerable with my arms stretched out, either. The smell of the oil seemed to be everywhere on me. I couldn’t identify the odor. It wasn’t floral or pleasant, like a perfume. It wasn’t repellant either. It just… was.

“You can tell me what’s happening now,” I pleaded, and shaking my tied arms, added. “It’s not like I’m going anywhere.”

“It is forbidden,” one of the Okhoron replied.

Her companion crossed to one of the braziers, and the remainder of the oil she tipped over the glowing coals all in one go. There was a roar and a flash of bright heat as the flammable oil ignited, and the smell intensified, multiplying itself from strong to overpowering. When the last drop of the liquid was vaporized, both women walked to a place at the back of the cave, out of sight behind me. They returned carrying something which must have been hidden behind the door - the tusk of a giant animal, polished smooth, and carved out to form a horn. The instrument was so heavy they had to carry it between them. I was surprised I’d missed it on the way in.

“We will now sound the horn, to signal the start of the ritual,” said one of the women as they stopped beside me. “Once we’ve given the signal, we must leave you. If you are found worthy, we will return for you when it’s over, and you will be Okhoron.”

“But what am I to do?” I pleaded.

“That is simple. If you survive, seek the divine light,” she said.

I frowned – there was no need to be cryptic. Why couldn’t they have just told me? These two were just yanking my chain for the sake of it. Bitches. Well, I wasn’t begging. Nude or not, I was going to hold my head up and face the ritual bravely, so I looked steadily into the dark tunnel ahead.

One of them supported the horn so the other one could hold it to her lips. She blew. And wow, that thing was loud. The sound, a steady base chord so deep it seemed to make the ground vibrate, was deafening from my place right next to it. I counted ten seconds, and then the note stopped, but my ears kept ringing and the last of it resonated around the rock walls. As a team, the two Okhoron were already carrying the instrument back to the corner of the cave. Their movements had become more urgent, and I could see anxiety in their body language.

“Hurry,” one said quietly to the other. What in the hells was happening here, I thought?

I shook my arms at them to again show my wish to be freed, but they were already retreating back out of my sight. The creaking of that damned heavy iron door when they closed it made a racket nearly as loud as the horn. The creak was of something thick enough to protect against an ion blast. I twisted my torso, trying to look round enough to see them, but with my wrists held in place, I could only rotate so far. With a deep boom, the door fully closed behind me, and with me sealed alone in the cavern, I returned to facing forwards into the dark tunnel ahead.

The logical part of my mind knew there was a fair chance was about to die, somehow, and if there was any truth to the Djenerion beliefs, the gods would certainly judge me “unworthy” for survival after enduring the rape. But at the time, the unknown was more terrifying than the real prospect of having seconds to live, and after ordeal by Gorack, I was very conscious that the ritual might have something to do with my female form. I’ll never forget how the indignity of standing there stark naked was the worst thing of all. Most desperately I wanted to cover my breasts, but having my hands tied to those rings meant I had to keep my arms out away from me. It occurred to me that if they’d wanted to display me like a piece of meat, they couldn’t have done a better job, roping me so my body was on show, and then in one of those cascades of insight, I saw that this was exactly what they’d intended.

Fear escalated rapidly in me. While they were tying me here, I thought the ritual might involve forced ingestion of a drug, where restraint was needed because in a chemical trip to connect me to the gods I might self-harm. Or maybe Okhoron would beat ten bells out of me, and I wouldn’t be able to dodge the blows. Or maybe enduring a torture – a burning chemical on my skin that I’d have tried to scratch away unless I couldn’t use my hands. But none of that would need the messing with the horn, or the braziers, or require the Okhoron to retreat behind a heavily armored door. Only one explanation fitted the facts. I was an offering. A living sacrifice, offered to something down that tunnel.

I cried out, a frightened call for help, but heard no response from the Okhoron women.

Enough. Screw this, I thought. I started twisting and turning, trying to pull my arms free of the ropes. The moisture on the walls… It was maybe condensation from the breath of something gigantic, or a million small things, or perhaps it was even slime – some form of bodily secretion. I needed to break free of these vines. Perhaps that was the test – I had to escape before it came. Whatever it was, I didn’t want to wait and find out. But the bindings were so tight, I’d only escape them by pulling my arms from their sockets. No, surely that wasn’t it?

A worse thought occurred to me: was this offering going to be something sexual? I recrossed my thigh over my other leg, but slick from the oil there would be little I could do to resist a male assailant. My body was so defenseless – buck naked with my breasts and ass on show to the universe.

And then, over the sound of the forest wildlife, I heard the first sound from the dark tunnel. The friction of something huge rubbing against the rock walls. And a rumbling noise – such a deep bass it was felt, rather than heard. Gods, help me.

I redoubled my efforts, to escape, straining as hard as I could without breaking my limbs. Would it bite me? The sound was getting louder. Something horrific was approaching me along the tunnel.

I had the dreadful realization that maybe, what was happening wasn’t the real ritual at all. The Djenerion had discovered my shameful secret, and this was how they disposed of the tainted ones. Ajeedie’s tragic life story would be of a woman sold out by her cousin, and punished for being defeated by being offered as live food. No, please, not like this I silently prayed, as I desperately writhed and strained to get free.

When I saw it, its front first, and then more of it as it emerged into the flickering light, I screamed. It was a giant eyeless worm, the size of a small space ship. The creature was so large it was squashed against the tunnel walls, and it expanded at it filled the room, almost like an airship being inflated. Its skin was a dead grey color, smooth and featureless, and it was coated with a thick glistening layer of slime matching the covering on the cave walls.

There were no visible signs of any sensory organs on the worm, but when I screamed again it reacted, rearing its front from the ground, and searching for the source of the sound. I saw no eyes or ears on it. The only break in the featureless shape was what must be its mouth – at the tip of its front - a circular ring of muscle, like a human anus, but magnified to a size where by dilating, it could engulf something much larger than me.

I screamed again, terrified as I thought there might be teeth inside that ring. Teeth that would shred my flesh into ribbons. The front of the creature reared again, reacting to the sound of my fear, and I fell silent instantly. I’d retained just enough reason to figure that I might evade this thing by keeping silent, if it only hunted by sound.

But then the muscular ring I called its mouth dilated and flickered, as though it was sniffing. And the worm shifting direction to point right at me. The oil, I thought, it can smell the oil. I rubbed my thighs together frantically, trying to wipe myself clean, but it was a futile gesture when the Okhoron had coated me so thoroughly from head to foot.

The creature came for me. Ten yards, five yards. It moved by pulsing interior muscles along its body. I could see the waves of contraction and expansion travel down its length, until it got so close that only the front of it filled my view. My silence would be insufficient to evade it, so I screamed for help again. I tried frantically to backpedal, pushing my heels into the rock floor, but my bound wrists held me in place, and escape was hopeless. I could smell the monster by then – a fetid, powerful scent like rotting meat surrounded it in a cloud. It was a carnivore. I shrank back in revulsion from the disgusting mucus that coated it. The slime must have been an inch thick. There were particles of dirt and debris suspended inside, and lumps of matter too decayed to recognize. As it sensed how close I was, the mouth began to dilate, wider and wider so I could see inside, and while there was mercifully no sign of teeth I could see the same grey dead flesh, slick with slime, within the thing.

I leaned my head back as far as I could, looking up to the moons, and arched my back to draw back my hips, but with my arms still held by the binding vines, I could withdraw my upper torso no further. So it touched my chest first, and then began to spread around me, sucking at my breasts and body intimately as lips around a lollipop. The creature was warm – much warmer than my own body, and the gelatinous coating touched me everywhere, making it feel as though I was being enveloped by a hot bath.

Once again I screamed – horror at the inevitability that I would shortly be engulfed, and devoured. The muscular orifice was more flexible than I would have guessed, and it was able to fold around my back while still busy enveloping my front. It was phenomenally strong – there wasn’t the least chance of doing anything but to go where its muscle shifted me. As the worm closed over me, my face pressed into the slime. For the first moment I was able to turn my head and breathe, but I coughed and then the overpowering smell made me retch, panicking as the film was so thick it blocked my nostrils. Where the ooze touched my bare skin, I was starting to feel a burning sensation, but that was nothing to the threat of suffocation.

Once the muscle had surrounded me down to my pelvis, the worm was able to suck my hips towards it. In a fraction of a second, I was dragged off my feet. I was engulfed in its mouth, swallowed right up to my chest, suspended on my back, with my arms stretched along towards the posts. My legs trailed horizontally inside the monster like I was clinging on in a wind tunnel, and it felt like my arms were being pulled from their sockets. On every bit of my body that was submerged, I could feel the worm’s internal muscles crushing me, and my naked skin burned from contact with the digestive saliva. I don’t remember if I was screaming.

I felt another wave of its muscles progressing up me as it moved over me completely. I took one last look at the stars above the cave opening, and drew one strained breath into my crushed ribcage – a breath that would have to last me until the end - and then my face, my arms, my hands were inside it.

My memories become vaguer from then. The creature would have easily possessed the strength to separate me from the posts by snapping the vines, shattering my wrists or even tearing out my limbs – whichever of those gave way first – but for reasons I don’t remember, I found my hands were no longer bound, merely compressed together above my head by the worm’s strength. It crushed me everywhere – but with the greatest pressure points moved in waves as it sucked me. It burned me everywhere. It devoured me everywhere. I could see nothing but blackness, unless perhaps my eyes were closed or had been burned away. It was impossible to breathe for the intense pressure, and for the slime that filled my tubular prison. Death in such a hell could not be far away.

I was already hallucinating, perhaps from oxygen deprivation, perhaps from some toxin in the burning slime. I welcomed the distraction from my imminent fate.

There was no longer blackness. There were stars in the slime. Infinite stars, and they glistened so beautifully. An entire universe. For a moment there was blessed relief. At the end, finally I would earn the Djenerion peace and one-ness with everything. I began swimming towards the eternal, but something was pulling me back. A hand on my ankle. I was pulled back to my bunk in the transport ship, and Gorack was holding my ankle.

“That’s not for you, honey pie,” he gloated as he forced me onto my back. “Your future is tied to the flesh. A Rape Run grade piece of tail, you are.”

He mounted me and penetrated me, just like before. The piercing stab of his penis was desperately painful. But unlike the incident on the transport, instead of groping my breasts he kept his hands around my throat, choking me. This was to be my end, found fucked and strangled, a life wasted for a few minutes of some pervert’s pleasure.

And yet, no. I began to fight, pulling at his hands with my dwindling reserves of strength. You will not beat me, Gorack. Even a cursed life, a life in the flesh, in the darkness, was better than no life. Gorack changed to another man, and another, and another, each raping me and each crushing my windpipe, but I endured against them all. My vision was shrinking to a tunnel, but also growing brighter, as the energy of my universe was compressed. At the end there was one spot of infinite brightness. I fought my way towards the light, and then there was nothing.

18 - Survivor

At first I unsure whether I was awake, for I was in pitch darkness. I cried out, for I could still feel the aftermath of Gorack’s hands on me, but soon realized that no, I wasn’t on the transport. In this place, my cries echoed back but also were dulled, as though I were deep underground. I was breathing air. My muscles felt as though I’d spent hours working out, but I seemed to be unharmed. I didn’t know how it was so, but I was alive.

Underneath me was something sticky. Expanding awareness told me I was lying on my side. I realized I was naked. There was the sound of dripping water. With the panic of death gone, logical thinking resumed. My mind informed me: “You’re down that dark tunnel, aren’t you?”.

I reached out, and knocked something, an object that was lightweight but hard, which clattered on the cave floor. I reached out more cautiously, and found the curved stick of a human rib. Carefully I padded the floor around me with my palms. More bones, and more bones – all from humanoid species, and too many to have come from one person. A skull there, from which I shrank in revulsion. A pelvis, broken in half. I found another skull. At first, I’d felt relief at having somehow survived being devoured by the worm, but my heart began to accelerate once again when I realized death was all around. What kind of slaughterhouse was I in? I noticed the smell then. An overpowering odor of rotten flesh and excrement. Immediately I gagged at the foul stench. How hadn’t I become aware of that before? Where was I?

The answer came when I reached behind me. I touched something solid and warm, coated in thick slime. Something vast. I’d cried out instinctively, the sound loud in the enclosed tunnel, then clamped my hand over my mouth. I was next to the monster, wasn’t I? I froze for a moment, waiting to see if it reacted to me, but the creature was still. Perhaps it was sleeping. I wasn’t going to wait and find out.

“If you survive, seek the divine light.” The words of the Okhoron woman came back to me. But in the pitch dark, there was no sense of which way to go. Logic said any direction away from the worm was good, so I decided to move ahead until I reached a tunnel wall. Then I would choose a direction, and favor a route that seemed to go up. So I began to crawl forwards, concentrating on moving only one limb at a time, but even being that cautious I still kept disturbing piles of decaying remains. Each time there was the clatter of bones I’d have to pause, until I was certain the monster remained dormant. Most of the skeletons seemed to have been there for years and were stripped clean, but at one point I put my hand into a human ribcage that was still sticky with decaying meat, and I vomited in revolted horror.

The tunnel wall turned out to be a few yards away at most, but it seemed an interminable time before I reached out and touched slime coated rock. The wall ran at an angle to me – one direction tending more away from the worm than the other, and this made my decision for me. Anything that increased the space between me and that monster was good. I began to crawl, brushing my naked shoulder against the wall to maintain my direction.

It was impossible to judge distance in the pitch dark, but after perhaps ten yards, the quantity of bones started decreasing, and I could accelerate, and after twenty yards an invisible boundary was crossed, after which there was nothing but the slick slime-coated floor. I stood up, but could go little faster. I had to probe with each footstep, in case my route came to an edge where the tunnel plummeted into the void. I was sure no-one was coming down here for me, and if I wanted to live, my future had to be secured thanks to my own efforts.

I continued. The tunnel seemed to progress roughly on a level plane. I still didn’t know if I was going in the right direction. Reaching a dead end and having to turn round would have been heartbreaking.

For once though, luck was on my side. After inching along the tunnel for perhaps fifteen minutes, I started to believe that the darkness was perhaps not quite so impenetrable, and after another fifty yards I was certain I could begin to make out the glistening tunnel walls. I was moving along a giant tube, with sides almost perfectly circular except for a flattening of the floor. I could smell fresh air and I began to hurry, but the light level increased so quickly I had to slow again to allow my eyes to adjust.

I rounded a slight bend and abruptly I could see the cave, and bright rays of light streaming down from Djenerix’s twin suns onto the posts where I’d been sacrificed. The calls of the daytime forest creatures were loud, and for a moment even to me the universe seemed blissful and alive.

I had found the divine light.

Sitting cross-legged on the floor were the two Okhoron women. One of them was fidgeting with her robe and they both seemed bored. I crept quietly from the tunnel, but a sixth sense in them detected me, and the two looked up. I was determined to show I wasn’t broken by the ritual, so when they saw me, I stood and strode confidently out from the tunnel, standing with my legs apart and hands on my hips. I wasn’t defeated. I was pissed off. I’d nearly died getting swallowed by that thing, and for what reason? Did I have the supernatural reflexes? I felt no different.

“Ajeedie, Nine be praised - you survived the ritual,” one of them says. I was mad as hell and ready to lash out at them for what they did – tying me up and feeding me to that horror, but in unison they chanted “Sister. Okhoron. Sister. Okhoron,” and disarmed by this unexpected homage, for the first time I looked down at myself.

My skin had always been pale, but I’d been bleached to a much whiter shade, and I was overly smooth – almost like a waxwork. The neat pubic hair over my pudenda had transformed, turning from thick black to a blonde so light it made me seem almost hairless. I reached behind myself and pulled round the long mane of my hair. Sure enough, there was no trace remaining of the brunette matching Ja-Alixxe’s hair. My ties with the past were severed forever. I had the silver blonde of the Okhoron women.

“You are one of us now,” one of the women said in a warm voice. “The gods found you worthy. You are Ajeedie, the Okhoron. I am Suna. This is Joon,” and she indicated the other woman. “You may, if you wish, clothe yourself.”

With crisis replaced by civilization, I became aware my nakedness was no longer appropriate. She handed me the bundle of my white sacrificial dress. The shoulder fastenings had been retied for me, so it only took a matter of seconds to slip it over my head.

“We will take you straight to the Okhoron quarters,” said the one named Joon. “You can clean yourself, and you’ll need to eat. Everything works faster in Okhoron bodies, including the metabolism.”

I was mollified enough to reflect on the ordeal I’d just endured, and its purpose.

“Something about that monster – the worm – is what gives us our speed?” I asked. “I hope you didn’t put me through that for no reason.”

“The Vore?” says Suna. “Every one of us has been through it. Literally. Its digestive tract is not capable of breaking down our bodies, especially once we coat someone with the oil. But those who the gods do not favor still die from suffocation during the passage through its system. The Vore’s digestive juices have their impact, as you have guessed. As well as reacting with the skin and hair, to produce the permanent bleaching you’re familiar with, the saliva has a powerful and permanent neurotoxic effect. It accelerates the brain function, giving hyper-fast reaction speed at the price of accelerated senility.”

“That’s what you call it, The Vore?”

“The gods found you worthy,” repeats Suna. “We believe the visions in The Vore show you your life string. You saw your past, your future. Use the knowledge wisely...”

But I saw all those men. I felt them inside me. Perhaps I am cursed, for if those men were my future, my fate promised nothing but shame and suffering.

“… and forget the fear of the monster,” Suna continues. “Forget it and never speak of it. It is forbidden to discuss the ritual. You are Okhoron, now and always. Greater trials than that lie ahead.”

And she wasn’t wrong.

19 – Okhoron

The world where I grew up had a trading hub, as most planets do. Ships came in from a fair spread of worlds, but it wasn’t like we were on one of the main transit routes, and my girlhood was spent in something of a backwater. The hub had a sordid reputation, like most space ports, but it still seemed pretty exotic to teenagers who hadn’t seen much of the universe. There were always ship crews looking for food, drink and fun, so for kids trying to scrape together a few credits there was never a shortage of menial jobs.

I worked my spare time in this saloon place near the launch pads, carrying out lowly duties like waiting on the tables, and helping out in the back. It was one of the bigger saloons, employing about thirty folks like me – mostly broke teenagers saving to get the hell out, and mostly girls, as the guys could get better paid jobs at the loading yard. When I was the newest girl there, the older females gave me this look, a kinda knowing-sympathy, like I didn’t know what I’d got myself into, but they did. I found out soon enough though. The owner – this grey haired garrulous and wiry old character called Dagoro-Shek – asked me to stay back and help check the stock. Alone in that back room, I turned round to find him with his cock in his hand, brandishing it at me. He said if I’d suck it once in a while, and let him see the bounties that the gods had provided me, I’d get extra credit and the nicer jobs.

It didn’t end like Gorack. Rape was still in my future. I pushed him aside and ran, ran all the way home. I went back next day intending to quit and collect my pay, but I didn’t see Dagoro-Shek at first, so I got on with some work while I waited, and when he did appear, he acted like nothing happened. It was busy, so I didn’t get a chance to speak my mind for the rest of the shift. I spoke to the others in the meantime – girls look out for each other – and they weren’t too shocked. One said I was too much of a prude. She said he was fine, just as long as you didn’t let him get you alone. Some even sought it out – a bit of touching, a mouthful of cum swallowed down once in a while, and you had some more savings. So next thing, I’d done another shift, and another. I carried on there and I dodged any requests to work late, always worked where there was a witness, and things went fine. Ten days later a new girl arrived. We watched her wryly. She’d find out. I even got to like Dagoro-Shek, under the right circumstances, and he gave me a big sendoff pack of credits as a present when I did eventually leave.

Why am I telling you this? I’m relating the story because although the other Okhoron were nice to me, that’s exactly the look they had – Ajeedie: you don’t know how things really are here, not yet, and you just have to find out for yourself.

Superficially everything was fine. It turned out I had a natural aptitude for martial arts, and I was fit and strong. My body became more athletic and vital, seeming somehow to make me appear more feminine and nubile even while I toned up and lost some of my softness. The blonde hair I found very pleasing. I was vain, and grew it long.

My training regime was interesting – weapons, tech, strategy, medical care, even the basics of flying and navigation. The Okhoron were warm and welcoming, and as we all lost much of our connection to the enlightenment as a price for speed, I had less to fear from them about my dark nature being discovered. But still there was that look: just wait, Ajeedie. So I trusted my instincts – certain that this wasn’t just the gods’ curse and something was amiss, and I avoided the intimate friendships. By the time I’d been a member of the Okhoron for a couple of months, I was seen as a loner, and I was content with that situation.

Our level of contact with Tisya, the Djeneria, our purpose for existence, varied. She had ceremonial duties, visits and visitors, where an Okhoron escort would be required as a visible expression of her eminence. On such occasions she would walk surrounded by her honor guard. We had formal uniforms that seemed to be chosen primarily to emphasize her protectors were female – short tight dresses, and knee-length boots with a high heel that would be useless in a combat situation. I didn’t like feeling so deliberately sexualized. Our weapons – a six-foot-long form of pole arm with a glowing energy blade – were similarly impractical, except in the closest hand to hand combat.

I preferred occasions when true protection was required, as opposed to being an objectified showpiece. For a real mission we would don combats, heavy boots and shoulder more practical blaster weapons. My first Okhoron duty was one of these.

We all took our responsibility to her seriously, in spite of the lame uniforms. Tisya knew well she had been identified by the Slavers of Aghara-Penthay as a target for participation in The Rape Run. A couple of years earlier there had been an incident with Slavers attacking when Tisya had been offworld. The pirates hadn’t managed to capture Tisya herself, but several Okhoron had died in the combat. The Slavers had captured a couple of Okhoron alive from the incident. The unfortunate Okhoron female whom they found particularly desirable was forced into the Rape Run and placed third, before being captured in a trap and violated by a faction leader named Leshan.

Slavery was not the only threat to Tisya, or even the primary risk. In the vastness of the galaxy there are more religions than habitable planets, and while the Djenerion had become one of the better known and established belief systems, The Sect was not without its rivals. The prominence of females as the vessels of truth was to some an anathema – holy orders who were convinced women should take a subordinate role. The first time I killed for the Okhoron it was such a man. His cult considered the Djenerion a heresy. Women should be obedient, and little better than property, they preached. The zealot burst from a crowd wielding a blaster – perhaps indoctrinated that sacrificing himself to eliminate the Djeneria would earn him a better afterlife. Reacting at supernatural speed, I’d shot him before thinking.

The Sect does not kill lightly, and at first I thought it would prey on my mind. But I felt no remorse, and after a few days I could barely remember his face. I didn’t believe killing that guy could earn me further eternal punishment. I felt I’d been punished enough by fate, that day on the transport, and it was time the gods cut me a break. I had vowed that no man would ever touch me again. I did not fear slavery, for I did not fear death, and merely intended to end myself if it looked like capture was inevitable.

Tisya, it seemed, thought of slavery quite a lot, and feared it more than I did. That was the only reason I could conceive to explain why, when night fell at The Citadel, she would often summon one of us to her private rooms. Tisya only ever chose a lone guardian, she chose them personally, and chose apparently at random.

The bodyguards were professionally discrete about how the exalted leader lived in private, but I guessed she must like to converse with her protectors, because she definitely preferred to vary her company. Unless she spent every night in consultation with the eternal, I reasoned she could hardly remain in complete silence until dismissing a bodyguard in the morning. Maybe she was a talker.

I certainly did not wish to chat with Tisya. The Djeneria must be the most perceptive of all the Sect, and I did not want her gaining insight into my life. My present was nothing but service to the Okhoron, under the shadow of discovery. My past was closed – another universe which I did not wish to discuss. For this reason, I kept a low profile, and tried to avoid her sight when she was in the dormitory choosing her defender.

But the day came when she appeared in the dormitory, saying, “Ajeedie, where is Ajeedie?” and no amount of avoiding her gaze could help me then.

“You have the honor of being my protector and companion tonight, Ajeedie,” she said. “Report to my private quarters in one hour.”

And there it was again, resurfacing from the nearby women – that irritating look. We can’t tell you. Find out for yourself.

Disobeying a direct order was impossible, so nervous of discovery or not, along I went. The quarters I was shown to were expensively furnished, but I had to concede they remained in good taste. The decoration wasn’t opulent or decadent. Tisya welcomed me not as though I was an underling there to protect and serve, but as though she was hosting a guest. She wore a long white dress, much like the one I’d worn to be sacrificed to The Vore. I was greeted by being handed a drink so strong I could see the haze of alcohol fumes rising above it.

“Give me your blaster – I will lock it in the safe for tonight,” she said. I objected – how could I protect her, if I couldn’t access the weapon in an emergency? But Tisya insisted, and when I reluctantly gave in, this was what she said:

“More people are killed by accidental blaster fire than by intruders, Ajeedie. But there’s another reason – an experiment. Have you heard of the Adjertie people? Your name has reminded me of them. Adjertie, Ajeedie…”

I replied in the negative.

“Their women are warriors. Much like the Okhoron, they are highly skilled in hand to hand combat. There is an interesting characteristic of the Adjertie, and that is they fight completely naked. In the distant past, their culture analyzed combat casualties, and concluded that overconfidence was one of the greatest threats. An approach became institutionalized, that the best way to never forget one’s vulnerability was for the warriors to be permanently naked. For it’s true: someone always feels self-conscious, and hyper aware, when naked. What do you think of that, Ajeedie?”

“I’m glad I’m not Adjertie then, holy Djeneria,” I replied.

“Ha. You amuse me,” she said. “But humor me, Ajeedie. I wish to observe your responses under just such a situation. Please undress.”

“What do you mean?”

“I asked you to undress.”

Of course, I hesitated. “I don’t think that’s a good idea,” I said. “Okhoron are trained to best protect you while clothed.”

“You’re refusing a request from your Djeneria?”

I hesitated again. “Of course not, Djeneria.”

“Then undress, Ajeedie.”

With the greatest reluctance, I sat on a low stool and began to unfasten the laces of my combat boots. Then I reached to my throat and pulled down the zipper of my ugly but functional military overalls, and I pushed the sleeves down over my arms. I had been hoping Tisya would find me sufficiently vulnerable once I’d got down to my plain regulation underwear, but it turned out that only complete nudity would do. She wanted me self-conscious about my body. She even licked her lips when I removed my bra, and my full breasts spilled free. Only a few minutes later, there I was perched at the edge of the lounger, my thighs squeezed together and my arms covering myself as best as I could.

“Do you feel vulnerable yet, Ajeedie?” she asked. I could tell she was enjoying my discomfort, so I tried to hide my embarrassment as best as I could, but my blushes were obvious.

At first I believed that she’d tire of the game after a few minutes and I’d be permitted to dress. But as time passed, I gradually understood Tisya intended me to remain nude for the night. And it wasn’t enough for her to let me sit huddled on her lounger, preserving what dignity I could. She ordered me to fetch things. To stand up. Sit down. She took pleasure simply from watching the movement of my body while I was unclothed.

“Why are you shy?” she asked me after a while of this. “You are really quite beautiful. Let me show you.” And reaching down to the communicator, she ordered, “Send in Mathra, with ethanol and sweetmeats.”

Mathra, it turned out was a male. A short, officious, looking man in his fifties who entered carrying a bronze tray with a decanter. A guardian Okhoron shouldn’t abandon the Djeneria, and by the time the door opened, it was too late to hide. So I bolted for a lounger, and curled up into a ball, trying vainly to conceal as much of myself as possible, while Mathra set down the tray. No one spoke. Mathra pretended to concentrate on his service, but I could see his eyes kept flicking to me, the naked woman, when he had chance. Tisya meanwhile, smiled openly at my embarrassment.

“Mathra, this is Ajeedie,” Tisya said. “Is she not beautiful?”

Given direct permission to look, he paused to stare openly at my bare skin, while I tried to dissolve into the floor.

“Very much, Djeneria,” he said. “One of the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen.”

I vowed that if he called me Rape Run grade too, I would kill him on the spot, but Tisya spoke and spared him that fate.

“You’d like to fuck her, maybe?” Tisya asked.

“Of course, Djeneria,” he replied.

“She is Okhoron,” Tisya said unnecessarily, for my pale hair and skin must have made it obvious. “With her reflexes, she’d break your arms if you tried to make a move. But what if I ordered her to allow you? Ajeedie – you follow your Djeneria’s orders, yes? You let me show you naked to this man. What if I told you to go further?”

“My primary objective is to protect you,” I said, summoning the most uncooperative tone possible. “While I was with him, I could not protect you.”

I’d thought it was a good solution to avoiding the question, but perhaps she’d heard it before.

“That didn’t answer my question. I said: would you fuck him, if I ordered it?”

I turned and looked directly at her. “My service has is limits, Djeneria,” I said. “No.”

Rather than be abashed she laughed at this, amused.

“What if I ordered you to be intimate with a woman?” Tisya asked next, and when I looked confused she pressed, “Yes, I read it in you - that’s not so unpalatable to you, is it Ajeedie? Many other women prefer their own sex, and your secret is safe with me. Thank you, Mathra, leave us please.”

“I’m not a…” I couldn’t help blurt as Mathra stood, but Tisya silenced me with a signal from her hand.

“Okhoron lose some of their gifts as a price for their speed,” Tisya said when we were alone, “but do not forget I can still read you, Ajeedie. Your strings weave a fascinating story. You crave affection, while pretending to scorn all emotional connection. Fear not – I can ensure you find affection, by taking the choice to refuse from you. You will bed with me tonight. I already see you will not defy this order. You will tell yourself afterwards, that the best protection was to endure and stay by my side. Thus, I will free you. You refuse to awaken your own body, because you fear your own sexuality. But my order absolves you of that responsibility, permitting you to blame me, instead of yourself.”

I looked at her in dawning horror, as I realized she might believe what she was saying. The Djeneria was going to insist on having sex with me, under some crazed justification that it was for my own healing. But she didn’t know my sexual history. She didn’t know about Gorack and the shadow he cast over everything. She didn’t know how I shrank from being touched. She didn’t know that the last person who touched my breasts was him.

“And if I say no?” I asked in a quavering voice.

“We already know you will not, but if you’re not open to listening to me, in the worst case I could see to it that you were ejected from the order,” Tisya said with sudden icy coldness. “It is easy to fabricate a reason.”

I stared down at the expensive carpet, and then back to her intense gaze. No, she didn’t believe that being intimate would heal me at all. I recognized the look in her eye. That was the way Gorack looked at me, eyes imagining where the hands wanted to follow. Tisya had groomed me, just like he had. I was there so she could sate her own lust. But what choice did I have? Refuse, and where would I go? Back to my homeworld? No chance of that.

“Would you like alcohol first, to help you relax?” she asked, knowing I was weakening. “I have spirits that would lower your inhibitions. Aphrodisiacs to awaken your fire. My intent is that tonight will be pleasurable for you.”

“No, Djeneria,” I said humbly.

“Then if you’re ready, come with me,” Tisya ordered.

And feeling dead inside, I surrendered to her, and let myself be guided through to her private chamber, where I lay down on the vast mattress.

“You will move as I direct,” Tisya ordered, and it began.

With Gorack, I was overpowered, and the battle was already lost once he had me cornered on my bunk. When I was bedded by Tisya, it wasn’t like I put up a courageous struggle. I could have easily defended myself physically. And I didn’t believe she’d follow through on the threat to get me expelled from The Sect, even when she later told me cameras recorded everything in her bedroom, and she had evidence against me. I let her do it because I was already broken. A part of me – the gods’ curse if there was any truth to Djenerion beliefs – saw no hope whatever I did, so why try to escape her? Again, what else could I do? Most of the Okhoron duties were easy enough, and when Tisya left The Citadel, at least I was seeing some of the galaxy with her. Better to suffer the evil you know, as the old saying goes.

Her tale of healing, I’m sure was bullshit, but maybe she did read something in me. I probably was lonely, and I did indeed crave some physical intimacy. And once she had me on the mattress, I discovered how well Tisya knew her way around the female body, and received a master class in arousal. I hadn’t been one of those cold fish females who never touched herself, so I didn’t think myself ignorant, but that woman turned me on to a level I wouldn’t have believed possible, and by the end of the night I touched her hungrily. It can be delightful to be the recipient of a well-executed seduction, and with a different, but similarly beautiful woman, I’d probably have relished the memory.

“Our sacred texts are clear that a woman who lies with a man becomes impure, and the physical realm blocks her connection to enlightenment,” she told me as we lay with our limbs entwined. “But there is no mention of woman pleasuring woman,” and with that she guided my fingers inside her warmth. “Yes – there, Ajeedie. Nonetheless, there are some in the Djenerion who spurn all physical stimulation – even masturbation. Oh, that’s good. And there seems to be few open lesbian relationships within The Sect, although I’m trying to change that.”

“For my part, I believe as long as we follow the gods’ prohibition on males, there is insight from opening ourselves to our senses,” she said later. “Feel them, Ajeedie. Pleasure, pain, emotion, taste, smell – all these ground us in the ‘now’. Learn to fully inhabit the now, and you’ll gain powers of insight as strong as reading the eternal. The future casts shadows which can be perceived in the present.”

But what surprised me with Tisya – universally acknowledged as the charismatic leader of a religious sect whose philosophy was benevolent, was her possessing a personality where cruelty, not pleasure, pleased her most.

It was not enough that I was her sexual plaything. She wanted me aroused, she wanted me to climax, in ways that caused me humiliation. I was to understand that my body was weak, and she could control it better than I could resist. I was lowly, she was high, and the differences in our clothing emphasized this. She barely hitched up her dress when I was ordered to finger inside her, but I was not permitted to hide any part of myself.

Her cruelty was physical as well as mental. Tisya liked to pinch my flesh – just little sharp tugs between her fingers to shock and keep me off balance – to hurt more than damage. She like to hold my wrists behind my back in a way that made me feel confined. She put her fingers inside my anus and enjoyed that I absolutely hated her doing it. Afterwards, we had a wrestling match as she tried to force those same soiled fingers into my mouth.

It wasn’t all one way. Tisya liked to receive, as well as to give. “Slap me,” she ordered. “Across my breasts. As hard as you can.” She bade me squeeze her nipples as hard as I could manage, so she cried out with the pain. “Yes,” she said. “Feel it – pain means we’re alive,” and it was true.

When Tisya dismissed me early the next morning, shell-shocked and exhausted, I’d hoped to slink unnoticed back to my own bed, but I was too late. The other women were already awake, about their tasks and tidying around their beds. Many looked up when I slipped in the door, but it happened to be the two Okhoron who offered me who were closest. I was trying to maintain my usual unreadable face when I perched, numb, at the end of my cot, but it turned out they knew already what had happened.

“Your first time?” the one named Joon asked sympathetically. “What did she say was the name of the naked people?”

“Excuse me?” I replied.

“The people whose women fought naked,” she pressed. “I’m Joon, and with me it was the Joroon who fought naked. With her, Suna, the nude warriors were the Swana.”

“That happened to others too?” I asked, horrified.

“Look around you,” said Joon. “And ask yourself - what do we have in common? Chosen by divine guidance? I think not. Tisya chooses acolytes personally, and choses those she finds desirable to join the Okhoron. She happens to prefer athletic women, so the pretext works that we’re here as the best bodyguards, but a champion fighter with an ugly face would miss out.”

I’d not really considered it before, but sure enough, all the women moving about the dormitory were tall, with strong but feminine figures and symmetrical features. They were all avoiding meeting my gaze. Ashamed that they’d let me go to her, unknowing. Ashamed I knew that they’d endured it too.

“How many people know about this?” I asked.

“Every one of the Okhoron,” Joon said. “A few of her personal staff. And the Nine.”

“The Nine know? Why don’t they do something?”

She looked at me like I was a fool.

“Tisya is a charismatic leader,” she said. “The number of followers has doubled during her time as Djeneria. What do her petty misdemeanors with us matter compared to that? And the Djeneria is chosen for life. It would ruin The Sect if she were publicly disgraced. No. No-one will save us, Ajeedie. And it’s worse - no one will even let you speak of what you know. Take consolation that soon enough she will tire of you, and move on to another, as she did with those who came before you.”

For a couple of months, which seemed eternal at the time, Tisya sent for me almost nightly. Sometimes we made love and sometimes we didn’t, sometimes she wanted me to bathe, once simply to exercise, but always I would be obliged to spend the evening naked, while she remained at least partially clothed. And always there was that thread of cruelty. She would find a way to abuse me, either emotionally or physically, and for reasons I’ve never understood, she always offered me the chance to reciprocate. After a while I began to enjoy my moments of retaliation. Once I mashed her clitoris so hard between my fingernails she screamed, and servants ran to see if she was okay.

“Yes!” she laughed at me afterwards. “Live now, Ajeedie. Own your senses.”

I started to consider whether I liked cruelty, and perhaps I wasn’t the good person I believed myself to be. But before I made up my mind, the frequency of our appointments began to decline, and after six days where I remained unsummoned, a new Okhoron appeared in the dormitory – Warani. She was a willowy, ethereal beauty, and I could see now that she lacked the build of a fighter. Warani had been chosen for her other obvious physical attributes. I viewed her with cynical sympathy, the way the others had looked at me. She would find out how things were, soon enough.

20 – Nine

If one is going to lie, bury it amidst the truth.

“The rest, you know, Master,” I tell Salarin. “I was captured along with Tisya’s bodyguards. I was paraded naked and defiled as part of Tisya’s escort on The Hub. Since then, I’ve been waiting in the pens.”

Ja-Alixxe is tensed like a wire, and her eyes are sharp, as though she’s trying to communicate. But she says nothing.

There were plenty of Tisya’s girls who did not feature in the footage broadcast to the galaxy, so I’m hoping there will be no checking, and no suspicion of the truth – that I was not there at all.

The real explanation for my presence on Aghara-Penthay arose only because only a lucky handful of Okhoron had been on other duties at the time of our defeat, and it had been chance that I was one of those. I’d slipped during training just before the ill-fated journey, and twisted my ankle badly.

And there was more, which I keep to myself.

A couple of days after Salarin captured Tisya to be a Rape Runner, I was summoned by the Nine. I’d been half-expecting them to send for me. News of the Slaver victory had gone round The Sect like wildfire. Tisya, beloved of The Sect’s followers, was captured, ready for disgrace in The Rape Run. And forty-eight Okhoron captured along with her. The Nine met in a hall almost as grand as Tisya’s audience chamber. They always wore robes of black, The Nine. It gave them a sinister appearance. The women were on thrones, arranged in a semi-circle up on a dais, so they could look down upon lesser mortals. Their leader seemed to be the older, cold-faced woman who’d accompanied Tisya when I was chosen for the Okhoron.

I was already anticipating that a summons to discuss the Djeneria could only mean one thing – women sent to Aghara-Penthay, in all likelihood on a one-way mission. So as the poor sap they were about to volunteer, I wasn’t going to give them any humility, and I matched the cold one for her sour faced expression.

“I’m sure you’ve guessed why you were summoned, Ajeedie,” she began, “but you don’t know it all. The Nine are wise.”

I answered, looking steadily at her.

“You’ve summoned me because you’re going to do something about the Djeneria. Correction – you want me to do something about the Djeneria. I presume the holy Nine are unwilling to go to Aghara-Penthay themselves.”

As the one who would be taking the fall, I felt I’d earned the right to be scathing about their bravery. But The Nine could give back in kind, and they blasted me without warning.

“We virgins have more to lose than you, Dark Djenerion,” she said with unruffled calm.

It was like a chasm opened up before me. Dark Djenerion, she’d publicly named me. And the lack of reaction from the others told me they already knew. They’d known all along. I scanned their faces for sympathy, but each one looked down at me with callous unconcern, like I was an interesting specimen rather than a human being. My legs gave way, and I would have slumped to the floor if I hadn’t been determined to show no weakness. Straightening, I stared defiantly at them.

“Yes,” the cold woman gloated. “The cursed ones forget how powerful the gift can be, and believe The Sect can be fooled. But you carried your shadow with you when you arrived. Even your Okhoron sisters, who surrender the gift for their physical powers, could sense you were different.”

Yes, they’d let me live as a loner among them, hadn’t they? I allowed myself a moment to wallow in the misery of my failure, before steeling my resolve once more.

“Then let me ask – why didn’t you expel me at once?”

She smiled, but only condescending approval, like I was an animal who had learned a trick.

“That, Ajeedie, is at the root of your presence today. Usually with the dark ones, they have no clear string. Their future lies in the chaos of the unknown. But yours was exceptionally clear. Your string was bound with hers. You may have chosen to be a slut, but the gods meant you for us anyway. Everything in your life was fated to deliver you to the intersection with the Djeneria.”

“I wasn’t a… He…”

“Your past morality is of no interest to us, Ajeedie,” she silenced me with a dismissive wave. “All that matters is that you are fated for this mission. Fated since the strings of your fate formed.”

“If the gods created me just so I would die or be enslaved on Aghara-Penthay, then screw the gods,” I said vehemently. “Why should I be their puppet?”

“Because you might not end up a sex slave, Ajeedie. We have a way for you to complete your mission, and return.”

With that, The Nine explained about the biosuits. I saw that their plan was risky, but it wasn’t impossible I might travel to the galaxy’s worst planet to be female, and escape.

“That changes nothing. Screw your gods,” I repeated. “They’ve given me no reason to brave a trip to that planet. Especially for Tisya.”

“Have you heard of a ritual called Tronog, Ajeedie?” asked the cold one in response.

I shook my head.

“It is obscure, even to the Djenerion. Some of our sacred texts are kept private even from the priestesses, and are only known to The Nine and the Djeneria. One such is Tronog. It is possible to intercede with the gods and restore the purity of a dark Djenerion. But participation from all of The Nine is necessary. That process is the ritual of Tronog. Return to us with your mission complete, and The Nine will perform Tronog. We’ll do it for you, Ajeedie.”

“I could be healed...” I said with shock, suddenly presented with the possibility of a future free from despair.

And then they told me the worst of it.

“But to earn Tronog, you must kill Tisya.”

I was stunned, and took a moment to reply.

“You mean rescue Tisya? As long as she remains a virgin, she could continue her reign as Djeneria.”

The cold one smiled scornfully.

“Again, the Dark Djenerion do not know how clear are their shadows to the enlightened. Tisya has not been a virgin for many years. It was most unfortunate that the Gods chose her early in her girlhood, and with her future assured, she thought she could run wild. We believe she even worked as a prostitute before joining The Sect. But The Nine sought the guidance of the Gods, and their choice remained unchanged. A Dark Djenerion had been fated to lead our Sect. And perhaps the Gods were right, for our numbers have soared under her leadership.”

“But the Slavers have processed her, and their broadcast says she’s a virgin.”

“Surgery,” interrupts the cold woman. “A new hymen built with the bacta. But if they use the implant to interrogate her, Tisya will reveal the truth.

The Djeneria a former prostitute? If she lost in The Rape Run, with a control implant in her brain she would tell everything. The Sect would be ruined. A laughing stock.

“So you see, we have reached the time for Tisya’s reign to end,” resumes the cold woman. “The Djenerion Sect will not be led by a whore with a slave mark on her face. And the Gods have decreed their instrument to be you. It is always about destruction and anger with the dark Djenerion, so you are a fitting nemesis. Dark Djenerion destroys dark Djenerion. Slut destroys slut.”

Waving the insult aside, I have one last question.

“If you can see the string of my fate in space time so clearly, you must know: will I succeed?”

The cold woman looked wary for the first time.

“Your string brings Tisya’s to its end. It is lucky in one respect that she whored away her gifts, or she would have seen as soon as you arrived that you carried her doom with you.”

“That’s not what I mean, and you know it. Will I return unharmed?”

She looks even more shifty, so I press: “The Okhoron retain some gifts. Tell me. I can read you, and will know if you’re lying. The least you can do, priestess, is gift me your enlightenment.”

She frowned.

“Your fate is strange, hard even for us to interpret. After Tisya, your string passes into the chaos. Until the influence of another woman impacts you – another string entwined with your own.”

“This woman brings balance to those she meets,” another of The Nine interrupts. “She raises and lowers those she interacts with, at the same time.”

I frown. Sounds like typical Djenerion gibberish.

“Even with her intervention, much about your future is uncertain, dependent on your actions, until you reach one critical choice,” the cold one resumes, “Take the path of mercy and you will be saved, yet diminished and shunned. I do not understand why. Take the dark choice, bringing about the deaths of many and you will become like..?” she frowned, puzzled, “A queen, a goddess, even… but of the…?” she frowned again.

“Small?” chipped in another of The Nine.

“Insignificant? Weak? We cannot tell, Ajeedie, and that’s the Gods’ truth. The enlightenment is not written like a text. It is more like a feeling, of what is correct. But all agree that you will not perish on Aghara-Penthay, at least not in the short term. You live on to see the consequences of your choice.”

She looked shrewdly at me.

“Understand, Ajeedie, that our foresight is not a ticket to take foolish risks. Your fate does not make you invulnerable, and you may be destined to survive only because you are careful.”

I considered what she said. I could have a future in The Sect. A real future. Hope. Healing. Enlightenment, even. And they believed I would reach Tisya. The Nine believed everything they had prophesied for me. I made my choice.

“When do I meet my team?” I asked.

I’ve played the scene over and over since my capture. That one sentence is my only hope – “You will not perish on Aghara-Penthay”. I hadn’t realized I’d lost myself in that memory of that meeting yet again, until Salarin drags me from the recollection, asking me, “Is that everything?”, with his cold smile.

“I’m almost too weak to talk, Master,” I admit, returning to the truth.

“Then take her away, and prepare her for service,” he orders the two guards who carried me up here. “Inject nanotech, stimulation enhancers in the usual locations. Lesbian settings. Enlarge her clitoris. Patch her up. And seeing how she’s going in the bacta anyway, burn her hair off and grow it back like the pet’s color. I want them to look as much like cousins as possible.”

I already know the futility of objecting, so although I’m struggling inside, I listen my fate without protesting.

“Chief,” the guard nods assent.

“And fit a training collar on her,” adds Salarin as an afterthought. “She’s already proved she’s tough. She might need a little more breaking than the common stock.”

“Chief,” repeats the guard, and still too exhausted to offer the least resistance, I’m dragged to the next phase of my doom.

The Present – Aghara-Penthay

21 - Cousin

In the bedchamber of Salarin, faction chief of Aghara-Penthay, I wait on my knees, directly facing Ja-Alixxe - she who is my cousin. Neither of us have been permitted clothing. We kneel facing each other in one of the standard sex slave poses – thighs wide to display the sex organ, heels pressed into buttocks, back arched to lift the breasts, and wrists crossed at the base of the spine, crossed, and lifted high enough the back that the hands do not obscure the cleft of the rump. The chin must be held up, so an observer can enjoy the view of our faces, and our hair cannot fall forward to offer concealment.

“Wait in that pose,” said the man-mountain who brought me here. One of Salarin’s elite guard – the White Rapers. I’m strong for a woman, but that guy looked as if he could have broken me just using his hands. “The chief’s orders are that you hold position, and study each other, and yourselves. Use the time to consider your status as women, and sex slaves.”

Ja-Alixxe could, in theory, move the minute he’s out of sight, but she doesn’t. We were ordered to wait on our knees, examining each other and ourselves, so as implanted women, we wait on or knees and look.

She is free to move, but I am not free to move. My wrists are locked behind me in one set of alloy shackles. A second set of shackles chains my ankles together. A length of chain links my wrist bindings to the shackles on my ankles, sized to give just enough run that I can stand straight while wearing them. The ankle chain is the shortest of them all, so I was forced to enter the room in these waddling ridiculous steps, whereas Ja-Alixxe moved with her infuriating innate grace.

I study her. She studies me. And we wait. And wait. And think.

I’ve been in some form of restraint for every single moment since I entered Salarin’s palace. I’ve also been naked since my arrival. In fact, I recall that no one has seen fit to give me a slave wrap since way back when I was stripped of my bodysuit. Ja-Alixxe was ordered to remove her wrap when I arrived in Salarin’s rooms. So we must wait nude. This has been the longest time I’ve remained naked in my life. It was days ago I last was permitted clothing.

I’m finding it difficult to keep still. My hair, length extended at the same time that they returned it to the midnight black of my girlhood, is now long enough to brush my rump. My erogenous zones are all tingling – my nipples – the humiliating ever-present bead of milk at the tip of each, stand rubbery and erect, advertising their craving to be used. And as promised, my enlarged clitoris, which now protrudes from my body like some kind of fleshy hood, is far more sensitive than it ever was before, and burns with desire. Before Aghara-Penthay, it was only during the height of masturbation that arousal became this distracting. Now I want to rub my core to ease that constant craving for gentle stimulation, but even if my chains were long enough to touch myself, I have been forbidden from doing so.

I examine my pretty cousin instead. I have been ordered to do that.

I am not so green to the ways of the universe that I don’t realize how many men take pleasure from seeing a woman intimate with another woman. Ja-Alixxe will likely be ordered to touch me soon, and I will be ordered to pleasure her. My gaze falls on the intimate place between her open thighs, wondering how my cousin’s body will feel when we have physical contact. Her clitoris, like her nipples, have been engineered to that strange silver color. I wonder if it will arouse me when my mouth is tasting the organ between her legs, tasting her, even though she is my cousin. Is she as sensitive as me?

I wish I didn’t have to think about her this way. But when else can I do, when we’ve been commanded? I must look only at her body, or my own. Ashamed of my inappropriate behavior towards a relative, I revert to studying myself – my full breasts filling my view as they always do. My gifts are bigger than Ja-Alixxe’s, but her chest is nonetheless one which men wish to grope and squeeze. Her belly is firm and taut, the skin silken perfection. Dammit, Ajeedie, not her, you. You can beat this. Concentrate on something else.

I break position for a second, but only flexing my neck to try and shift the heavy neck collar into a more comfortable position. I feel my dark hair brushing my bare back. The collar is another new addition to my universe - an old-fashioned slave training device. I do not like it.

Even those who do not know the face marking of Aghara-Penthay would recognize what the collar makes me. A locked collar is a universal identifier of a slave. Its rusting metal looks too functional for a piece of jewelry, with that overly solid, plain shape and the rings meant for easily attaching leashes or chains. They see that the collar is fitted to control me.

The collar in general might match be ancient tool, but the tech inside mine is right up to date. Venture too far from my owner’s controller, and the inside of the collar tightens like a noose. This means, until the time when someone unlocks this hateful thing, my life depends on staying near to Salarin. And that isn’t the worst of it. The chief and the men in his retinue think it’s a great game to activate the collar’s shock device. Aside from being extremely painful, the powerful electric jolt the collar delivers incapacitates me completely, sending almost every muscle in my body rigid, until the device is switched off. Sometimes he activates it remotely, when he’s not even in the room. This is deliberate, so I cannot relax, and must remain in constant anticipation of the next surprise.

God, I hate this. I hate what’s happened to me. If it wasn’t for the implant preventing self-harm, I could so easily walk straight out of the collar’s range and immediately end this degradation by strangling myself.

But no.

I flex my neck again. It doesn’t help. At that place behind my head, at the base of my skull, I’m sure I can still feel the lump where the chip is buried. A little of the memory from my processing has returned. That’s where he implanted me, Charax’s medic, before they put me in the pen with the other Okhoron. That chip is not a mere piece of hybrid silicon, but a bioform. It’s been days since my implantation. Already the tendrils will be deep into my brain, growing like branches of a tree, connecting to one neuron here, another there. By now these will have made it impossible to remove my implant – not without ripping half my brain tissue with it, and they will gradually deepen the implant’s control and impact on me. Ja-Alixxe will have carried hers a couple of years now. Its control over her will be absolute. I look into her eyes to try and read how much the chip has changed her.

What I see is my cousin, Ja-Alixxe, plainly a sex slave, obedient to every male command. And yet she’s not a robot. That’s still the same Ja-Alixxe. She still has that smoldering, dangerous sensuality in her expression that was always there, but she’s also under their control. I cannot trust her, not that I ever could.

We were ordered to study each other, and we are. Currently my cousin is staring curiously at my swollen, leaking breasts, and that makes me angry with her. I just wish I could cover them, but even if I could move my arms that far, I’m not allowed. The milk beads and drips constantly – a badge of shameful fertility – but I can’t be properly drained until there’s the suction from another woman’s mouth. The Okhoron tried, when we were in the pens. Somehow, the nanotech inside me knows if the pumping comes from a female’s lips, or something else.

She hasn’t noticed I’m watching her yet. Ja-Alixxe next lowers her gaze deliberately to between my legs, where she can see my distractingly prominent new clitoris, and seemingly in response to her, the itching need to be touched seems to intensify. My nipples are hard – the craving for a female’s caress there nearly as bad. I frown at my cousin.

“Lesbian settings,” Salarin said.

My captors told me the stimulators in my genitals would need bringing to climax every few days, and just as with my nipples, I will only achieve relief through the touch of a woman. Thanks to a whim of Salarin’s – “Lesbian settings” - no more than a moment’s thought – my sexuality has been redefined.

Those nanotech nerve stimulators, injected straight into my nipples and vulva, are a physically separate torment to the ones from my implant. There is no direct nanotech loop to my brain, other than the usual nerve signals from the genitals. But there might as well be. Over time, the physical reward that comes from intimacy with the female will change my personality - feedback from the stimulation working just as completely as the compulsions from my implant. My future is to be a lesbian.

I’ve always been capable of appreciating when a female is beautiful, and I’ve been capable of being aroused by women’s bodies. My sessions with Tisya – both abusive and not abusive – weren’t without their arousing moments. And ever since the incident with Gorack on my way to join the Sect, I’ve found the idea of men touching me repulsive. OK, so perhaps I always was a lesbian. But after being revived in the bacta tank, my hair once again the midnight black of my youth, I’ve been able to think about little else but sexual experimentation with females. Take the leggy blonde who opened the doors when I was escorted to Salarin’s bedchamber. She was beautiful, as you’d expect with the property of a chief. But my feelings looking at here were more than appreciation. I felt hunger. We followed her through to this room, and I even found myself picturing her restrained.

Salarin said he would force Ja-Alixxe and I to desire each other. He said he would make us hate each other. If they command me over and over to abuse Ja-Alixxe, will I start to enjoy it? Will I turn into a monster? Behind her, on the shelves near Salarin’s bed, are plenty of methods for a monster to deliver sexual cruelty. Their contents are incongruous with the wealthy good taste and priceless art decorating the rest of the chamber. I see restraints, chains, ropes, tape, whips, rods, clamps, needles, gags, harnesses, straps, devices to inflict electrical pain, obscene phallic forms for insertion, and things with a function I can’t even guess.

Please no. Don’t let him force her to use them on me. Don’t let me use them on her.

Once again, I look up and down my cousin’s naked body, the same way she’s looking at me. No doubt a woman such as her would writhe sensuously in the throes of agony. And given the way she’s led to so much suffering, I should deserve some payback. But would her naked bondage arouse me, or would I prefer for her to be spared torture, and be the one with power over me? It’s a mistake to even think about Ja-Alixxe as a dominant. Her character already reminds me of Tisya’s, in some ways. There is an odd tug deep between my legs as I imagine her crying out in the throes of pleasure, and I push the thoughts away, shaking my head. I cannot let this be.

I rock my pelvis on my heels. Argh, how can I be so turned on? Gods damn the Slavers, if only there was some way to brush my groin while still keeping my thighs apart.

“Don’t fight it,” Ja-Alixxe says knowingly, and her gaze snaps back to my face. “It only makes your feelings grow stronger.”

I can’t bear her of all people pitying me, so I reply irritably, chains jingling as I tense my arms. “You don’t know what I’m feeling. You never knew me.”

“I know slaves,” she says. “I’ve seen them come and go. Try to deny what we are, try to retain our dignity, and we just add to our torture.”

“That’s easy for you to say. You’re not the one who’s been turned into a lesbian,” I say angrily. “Stimulation enhancers in the usual locations, he said. Lesbian settings. Just like that. A moment’s thought for him, and my life is changed forever. Salarin will move on – a fresh capture will take his interest soon enough - but I’ll be old, and still needing some dyke to finger me every few days.”

“It is not wrong to take comfort from other women’s bodies,” Ja-Alixxe says gently. “Especially here, where the only kindness is from other slaves. All men are brutes, but women can be gentle, exquisite.”

“I’m your cousin,” I insist. “You think it’s okay that we take comfort from our bodies?”

“I’d prefer it wasn’t you,” says Ja-Alixxe, with an unconcerned shrug. “But I have no choice, so I’m going to get what pleasure I can from the experience. I’m a sex slave. You’re a sex slave, Ja-Jeedie.”

“Don’t call me that!” I say.

“A sex slave?” Ja-Alixxe replies. “But you are.”

“No, don’t call me Ja-Jeedie,” I retort. “That name was left behind me long ago.” Wishing to change the subject, I grumpily state, “And you were supposed to be left behind me too. The galaxy believes you are dead.”

“So I’ve been told,” she answers bitterly. “I believe it’s a policy by the galactic media, to spare me. I was condemned to death very publicly, so it would be a sign of Slaver weakness if the galaxy discovered I was alive. The Slavers would be forced to execute me, then. For my part, I wish they’d done that, or I had perished in the explosion. I don’t thank the universe for its silence when exposure and quick death would have been kinder. But perhaps my time will finally come this year. You heard that brute who’s the new faction leader. He flaunts his wealth even for a Slaver – he can afford to dispose of every woman he rapes. He would buy me and kill me just to piss Salarin off.”

“I know enough of men. I’ve already seen enough of the way Salarin looks at you like a lover,” I say. “He would never sell you. He calls you the pet.”

“The choice isn’t his,” Ja-Alixxe says dismissively. “He must sell me soon. It is one of their few laws. The men here are not supposed to own a slave for more than two years. In a place where the economy functions on sales, Slavers believe forming an attachment to a girl interferes with the profits, and clouds the judgement. A woman is allowed no power on this world, and if any feelings for her excessively influences a male, even lust, that is giving her a certain form of power. They see attachment in men as a weakness. The Slavers call it being “dick-sick”. It’s a serious insult. There are only a few exceptions to the two-year rule permitted, where a female can remain longer in her owner’s service. Women with specialist skills who perform an important function.”

Salarin was called dick-sick by Monad. Well, well.

“A part of me is glad you’re alive,” I tell her. “The years since you sold me out have not been kind to me. All thanks to you. Perhaps at last the gods deliver some justice.”

“You must see, I wouldn’t have given you to Gorack if I’d known you’d carry on,” Ja-Alixxe says nonchalantly. “Once you were deflowered, I never thought you’d be stubborn enough to continue with joining that stupid cult. I’ll apologize if you wish, but that counts for nothing here. The past is unimportant once someone becomes a slave.”

Unable to keep from picking at that particular scab, I add, “What happened to Gorack, anyway? Did you kill him? Somehow, you made it to the Rape Run a virgin. Is he dead, or is he still lazing around in some sleazy dive, drinking himself into oblivion?”

I’m not sure which answer I’d prefer. I want him to die painfully, but then that would rob me of my revenge. And I’m not sure I want to hear he perished by Ja-Alixxe’s hand. I couldn’t bear her succeeding where I’d endured such an easy and humiliating defeat.

“I heard he made it big, believe it or not,” she replies. “Not through his own effort, of course. He won some trading operation in a card game, somewhere out on the Western Spiral. By taking franchise deals, he let others do the work, and business boomed. I heard he runs a whole system like a king.”

“Then that proves there are no Gods taking care of us all,” I say angrily. “I’ve devoted my life to serving them, and been rewarded with an implant and the degrading mark of a slave. Leaking breasts, and lesbian settings. Gorack rapes the vulnerable, and ends up with a blessed life. He escaped with no more punishment than the marks on his face.”

“He kept the scars you left where you scratched him,” Ja-Alixxe replies, her tone careful. “He said he liked the way they looked, and he liked telling people it was a woman. At least, he liked how he looked until the day he tried to go too far with me…”

“What do you mean?”

“He tried to rape me, and I drenched him in acid from the ship’s batteries. It wasn’t my intent to kill him, just to deter his libido, so I took him to the medic, but he’ll never breathe without help again. I stayed long enough to know he’d survive, reflecting on how I beat him, then I stole his ship.”

“But he never took advantage of you?”

Ja-Alixxe’s dark eyes look at me calculatingly. She’s thinking that she doesn’t want to seem superior to me, if that’s likely to provoke me.

“I performed certain services for him,” she says cautiously. “But as you’ve already noted, the whole galaxy knows I arrived here a virgin. Rape Runners are not permitted to keep their sexuality private.”

That’s certainly true. The whole universe knows she’s not a virgin now, and as a slave woman of Aghara-Penthay, Ja-Alixxe will be fated to have sex with many more men in her lifetime. Look what men have done to her – I hate them all. Ja-Alixxe’s spread thighs make the folds of her vulva gape as though begging to be filled. Her silver nipples are rigid. She’s served as a sex slave for so long that she can hold that pose without seeming embarrassed.

I look back to her face. She’s watching me study her, her expression understanding. I’m struck again by just how beautiful she is.

“If you want to retain your sanity here,” says Ja-Alixxe, “accept that the control of an implant is absolute, so there’s no shame following it’s commands. It’s the implant acting, and not the woman. That’s our mantra. We have been ordered to desire each other, so there is no shame in desiring each other. I’ve seen the way you’re looking at me – yes, like just there – and it’s not your fault, when you’ve been commanded. If I am ordered to hate you, I will hate you. If I am ordered to torture you, I will torture you, just as you will torture me under their command. You know the master’s tastes, so we have to prepare ourselves - that is the likely outcome. He has been anticipating watching us play together for days. But I pledge to the Ja-Jeedie I once knew, if I have free will, I will try to give you pleasure.”

Again she used that name from my past, but before I can object, something strikes me from her words.

“What do you mean – ‘anticipating watching us for days’, Ja-Alixxe? The cum race was this morning.”

“They had you unconscious for three days,” she disagrees.

“But why? Healing my injuries, and making those changes should only have needed hours.”

Ja-Alixxe’s face goes red, strained, as though she’s struggling with some internal battle. Then her body goes limp, and she seems to give up.

“You probably don’t remember the priestess who came to us when we were small,” she blurts out suddenly, “But I’m a little older. She prophesied your future. My own destiny wasn’t the only reason I…”

The electric jolt to my neck comes without warning, and throws my body into such a violent convulsion that I strike the back of my head on the floor and see stars. Every muscle goes rigid with pain. My body forms an arc with my spine distorted backwards, and I fear the metal restraints are going to break my bones. I can’t even scream, but only emit a strained moan. Foam seeps from my mouth.

I’m not sure how long I’m in that state, but when the torture stops, Salarin is with us in the room. The faction leader is not alone – there is a slave woman, an exceptionally beautiful dark-skinned female dressed in the standard red slave wrap. The clothing is woefully insufficient to conceal her lush form. She should be enough to satisfy any man, but Salarin curtly orders her “Leave us,” and with her closing of his bedroom door, we’re trapped.

While she goes, I get slowly and awkwardly back into my kneeling position. It’s not so easy with my wrists shackled behind me, and my movements are obscene, lacking in all grace.

Ja-Alixxe and I look at each other, both silently trying to communicate. Meanwhile the chief walks around me, as though inspecting a possession.

Back on my knees I find I still haven’t stopped shaking from the electric torture – a combination of fear and the physical effects. Gods damn that collar, and Gods damn him. If I’m trying to be brave, but I can see the collar is going to break me if I have to wear it for long. The constant dreadful anticipation is worse than the pain itself.

“Look at you,” gloats Salarin. “Ajeedie… Your modified hair, and that fleshier clit are much better. Aren’t you a prize? You could rival the pet. Indeed, now your hair is the correct color, you really have to know you both well to tell the difference between you.”

“Yes, Master,” I say. I try to stay calm, but I can’t conceal the tremble in my voice.

“Your breasts are a little larger than the pet’s, Ajeedie. But I think we can enjoy those just as they are.”

“Yes, Master.”

“And do you like your collar? If I had my way, every female in the galaxy would be trained with one.”

I’m spared the need to reply, because he adds, “It usually takes five to ten days for a woman to lose all self-control with the standard collar breaking processes. Shocks without warning, waking her in the middle of the night. She becomes so frightened, soon there’s barely a need to actually use the pain. But perhaps you’ll be strong, a fighter. Like my precious pet, here.”

I look at my cousin. Ja-Alixxe looks nervous.

“Perhaps, Master.”

He stops where he can see between my legs.

“And do you like your enhanced clitoris?” I flinch, and he says, “No, don’t hide it from me. That nanotech was expensive.”

“No, master. It’s distracting.”

He chuckles.

“Fear not. It is time to relieve the craving, by sating your desire on your cousin. Slaves – mount the bed.”

choose an obscene-looking harness, and a couple of tubes of mystery paste. With these items in hand, he pulls up a chair near the foot of the mattress, sitting on it like he’s visiting a hospital patient, and not overseeing a session of rape and abuse.

“Lie on your back, Ajeedie,” Salarin orders, so of course I comply and shuffle round. My body lies straightened out, my shackled wrists pushed into the bed by the small of my back. I can feel the chain from wrists to ankles pressed between the cheeks of my buttocks. A drip of milk runs down my left breast, but I am unable to wipe it away.

“Paint her cunt with the indicator, Ja-Alixxe,” Salarin orders, throwing the first of the tubes to my cousin. “And your own, for that matter.”

I watch as Ja-Alixxe squeezes a small amount of a translucent red gel onto her fingertips. She leans over me, and I catch a quick flash of apology before her hair falls forward and obscures her face. I feel myself blushing as she leans close to the place between my legs, but I remain still, lying uncomfortably on my bound arms, staring at the ceiling.

My cousin’s fingers touch my vulva for the first time. She is gentle, and assisted by the nanotech, the contact between us stimulates a warm rush. Ja-Alixxe is thorough, smearing the gel all over my vulva. Her touch arouses me, and when she probes her forefinger a little way into the cleft of my vagina, she finds me wet. I’m forced to squirm. My blush grows deeper. Forgive me, cousin. I feel a gentle touch from her other hand on my exposed hip. Sympathy? Understanding?

I’m expecting some form of brutal torture, but aside from the gel making my genitals feel slick and slippery, there is no change. Salarin sees my confusion, and it amuses him to explain.

“The indicator changes color to green when you orgasm,” he says briefly. “Expecting it to burn, no? What kind of a monster do you think I am? You’re almost right. It is this one which burns.”

Salarin gestures with the second tube, and moves it towards that revolting harness. The apparatus resembles a woman’s string panties, but the miniscule bands are straps of leather, rather than fabric. It offers minimal covering – a garment for function rather than concealment. The straps only serve to hold its parts in place. It’s obvious where its two artificial phalluses go, with both being fixed to the strap running down between the legs and back up between the wearer’s buttocks. The phallus intended for the vagina is monstrous – the size of Toscoro’s penis. The penis that goes in the anus is a little smaller, but still large enough that it will be miserable for whichever woman between Ja-Alixxe and myself ends up with that vile thing inside her.

“Your resistance to stimulation was excellent in the Cum Race, Ajeedie,” says Salarin, as he calmly squeezes a palmful of the second gel into his hand and begins to coat the cocks on that obscene harness. “But I want to see how you respond now, after your pussy has been sensitized to females.”

I feel myself sinking into despair as I stare up hopelessly from the bed. I don’t want to cry, buy tears are already beginning to bead in my eyes.

“Gods,” Salarin laughs, wiping his hand on the mattress. “I’ve forgotten how much this stuff stings.”

He chuckles for a moment, then orders, “Ja-Alixxe – sit on Ajeedie’s face. Intimately. I want her to be able to tongue right into your clitoris.”

Ja-Alixxe straddles me as fast as she can, her breasts looking prominent from below, and again I see that shared understanding, but Salarin barks, “Stupid bitch – No, facing her snatch.”

For a second, I look right up her perineum as she rotates, stark naked above me. Then she lowers her pelvis, and a fair part of her bodyweight presses directly down on my face. I’m looking right at her perfectly rounded buttocks and her bare back. The contact between us is so tight I can smell her anus, and already I can taste the unmistakable flavor of a woman’s sex organs.

“That’s better.” I can hear Salarin, who hasn’t moved, but I can’t see him when my entire view is filled with my cousin’s naked rump.

“Slaves – I enjoyed Ajeedie’s Cum Race so much, I’d like a little rerun. But with my new pet a little more handicapped. I decree that Ajeedie will remain chained, but she’s free to move those fine hips to try and escape the contact, whereas the rule for Ja-Alixxe is that she must keep her cunt constantly pressed on Ajeedie’s face. So when I give the word, you will both try to arouse the other one to orgasm. The indicator will reveal when your moment comes. The one who climaxes first – the loser - will be forced to wear this burning gel-smeared harness for the rest of the night. I will also rape her in the mouth while she is pain. And let me make clear as a command to your implants - perhaps you have feelings for one another, but you are both forbidden from trying to lose deliberately, to spare the other.”

He gives us a moment to take in the unavoidable horror of our next few hours. On the edge of panic, I strain my arms. How can I possibly win, when I can’t use my hands? Can I force her to climax with only my tongue? And after my victory - how unbearable to watch Ja-Alixxe writhing in pain, thanks to me. And what if I lose? Just having those things inside me, coated with lubricant, would be bad enough, but how much worse will the paste be? I try to remember if there are nerve sensors in the inner walls of the human vagina. Unless there’s a miracle, I’ll shortly find out.

“Begin,” Salarin says calmly.

“Forgive me,” whispers Ja-Alixxe as she leans over.

22 - Torment

I have come to believe that, during the Cum Race, I was under some form of duress that prevented me from giving up. For this contest, there seems to be no such compulsion. If I’m to hold back from climax, I’ll have to do it on my own.

With my cousin’s fulcrum pressed so firmly and continuously on my face it doesn’t take me long to arouse her, and once she’s moist and lubricated, I can easily thrust my tongue deep inside her and lap around in a frenzy. I caress her clitoris. I gyrate my tongue around the inside of her nether lips until I’m overwhelmed with the taste of her fluids. I work her as though my life depends on it.

But I’m soon sure that whatever I do is not going to be enough, and inevitably I’m going to lose this one. During her years of slavery Ja-Alixxe must have been with countless other women, and she’s built a sexual expertise that would make Tisya seem like a fumbling virgin.

I try to evade Ja-Alixxe’s touch to my own core, at least as much I can with my limited movement, but escaping her caresses is hopeless. And what she does to me is far beyond fingers. She kisses me – little butterfly kisses over my pubic mound. She uses her tongue, as I’m using mine on her. Even her breath she uses as a weapon.

My writhing quickly has other motivations than an attempt to avoid her. It’s impossible to keep still under the barrage of liquid pleasure, so much of my struggle becomes involuntary. Equally impossible is keeping silent. I find myself moaning – whorish shameful sounds that resonate through the weight on my face to her torso. Every minute, I travel inexorably further up towards climax.

I’m getting more and more desperate to escape her, but Salarin said “lesbian tendencies”, and it’s hard to concentrate on avoidance when so much of my psyche wants her. The shame I initially felt about being intimate with my cousin is soon forgotten in the intensity of desire. I can glimpse Ja-Alixxe the way men see her. The utterly perfectly shaped buttocks tapering to that tiny waist, and her body still toned, despite her time in slavery.

But it’s her nature that really arouses. This woman is a female animal - pure passion – vivacious, deadly, sensual.

I can’t speak to her while I’m smothered by her sex organ, but I try to beg her anyway, even though it’s a battle whether to beg her to continue, or stop. Gods, that feels so good, she feels so good – Ja-Alixxe, please, just get your fingers away from there.

She does not use her hands solely to pleasure my core. Ja-Alixxe slides herself over my torso as though massaging me. She rubs my thighs, which seem to have become surprisingly responsive. She pulls at my defenseless nipples. But always she returns to my apex, probing deeper and deeper as I become wetter and wetter. I have to resist, but when her touch leaves me, my pelvis lifts after her, as though seeking from its own will.

As panic builds, I put increasing effort into fighting against the alloy restraints, straining my arms and legs. It’s a mistake, because I don’t realize the struggling opens my knees and allows Ja-Alixxe better access to my sex. She seizes my thighs, holding me open by force, and makes a lapping motion between my nether lips like a pet drinking milk. It’s as though my lower body turns to liquid. Gods help me, what have they done to my body? I’ve become so sensitive…

The delightful torture is unstoppable. I try to beg, “Please, Ja-Alixxe, I can’t hold on,” but her bodyweight is squashing my mouth, gagging me. I must fight on. I can’t succumb after only minutes. But my body ignores me. I feel myself approach the point of no return. So soon? No, no, no, please, but here it comes.

The orgasm locks me almost as rigid as the shock collar did. It freezes me so taut I almost lift the two of us from the bed. Shamefully, I release a squirt of fluid which inundates my cousin’s face. I gush so fiercely they won’t need the gel turning green to confirm what’s happened. I couldn’t have concealed that one if my life depended on it.

When I’m able to go limp, I lie there, gasping for breath and covered in sweat. The orgasmic physical high is quickly being replaced by dread. I’ve lost – I just lost. What’s next? The harness?

I feel the weight of Ja-Alixxe, still straddling me, shift above me. Salarin says, “No, Ja-Alixxe, leave her stink on your face, until after you’ve finished yourself off on her.”

After a moment’s uncertainty my cousin begins to rock her pelvis rhythmically, the pressure from her weight moving my head with it. She moans softly in time with her gyrations. It only takes a few more minutes before the pitch intensifies with the onset of her own orgasm. I was not able to pleasure her enough. See how easily she controls her body, compared to my ineffective technique.

We are cousins, and some things should be private, but I must bear witness to the sound my own cousin makes when she orgasms. During the peak I thrust my tongue deep, trying to convey many emotions using only that muscle - sympathy, forgiveness, tenderness. I don’t know if she understands.

Her release is almost perfunctory compared to mine, and once it’s done, she lifts herself from me without delay. There’s nothing left for me now – no comfort, no chance, nothing except the penalty of failure. Free to move my head again, I turn to look pleadingly at Salarin. He’s barely moved – the harness destined for my insides still in his hands. I can see the bulge of an erection in his loose robes. I look from his phallus to the two colossal artificial versions. Gods, how will I even stand those inside me?

My fear is at maximum intensity. It has even more dimensions than fearing the suffering and humiliation that is imminent. I won’t be able to make progress if I’m too badly damaged. I’m compelled to be intimate with the faction leader, not spend days in his bacta tank.

“Please, Master, don’t,” I beg, wriggling and pulling at my bonds. I pray my pleading will arouse him further, as that would be good. Sex slaves soon learn that bringing male arousal can mean the difference between suffering rape, and torture.

“Gag her, Ja-Alixxe,” is all Salarin replies, “Use the ring.”

Ja-Alixxe hasn’t finished wiping her face with the back of her hand, but as soon as he commands her, she hops agilely from the bed and pads naked across to the shelves. She remounts the bed almost silently.

“The ring” is a circumference of alloy, about as wide as my clenched fist, with straps of leather attached to a buckle, which, once the gag is in place, secures it behind the wearer’s head. Four thin legs of metal radiate from the ring, giving the thing an appearance like a crab. These probably make it impossible to rotate it between the teeth, and thereby close the mouth.

“Open, please,” Ja-Alixxe says softly.

I’m under no obligation to obey her, but I do so anyway. She slots the gag between my teeth, and then fastens the straps gently, but tightly, behind my head at the base of my skull. Her touch on me lingers, after she’s finished. My jaw feels as though it’s stretched quite widely apart, and my tongue feels oddly vulnerable. I don’t know quite where to position it. I test the ring, biting down on it. Of course, it is solid enough to resist a human’s strength. The protruding legs are uncomfortable, and spike into the soft skin of my cheeks.

“Mmmuhhh,” I say, when I try to speak. Already I can feel saliva accumulating in my mouth. If I wasn’t on my back, I’d start drooling. I swallow awkwardly.

“Using this paste requires practice,” says Salarin, standing and handing the harness to my cousin. “Apply too much, and the female loses consciousness. The burns it leaves usually need healing afterwards, in the bacta. But I want to use it today, to be sure you’re… pacified.”

I try to plead - I’m already pacified. I promise I’m well and truly pacified. But gagged, I can’t express my thoughts. A whimpering sob comes from out the blue, from me.

“Lift your knees and pelvis, Ajeedie, to present your holes,” Salarin says as I try to hold back the tears.

The request came from a man, so terrified or not, I am compelled to obey. In spite of the pain to which these movements inevitably surrender me, I obscenely draw my knees up to my stomach, then lie completely still, forced to wait helplessly as she positions the harness with the phalluses directed to my holes.

“Put them in, Ja-Alixxe,” Salarin says.

“Forgive me,” she says again. And then in one swift movement, she rams the cocks home. Before she even has the buckles secured at my waist, I’ve lost my mind. Gods, it’s like she’s just shoved two red hot pokers inside me. Perhaps it’s because I’m newly sensitized, but this cruelty feels worse than the torture phase from the Cum Race. Or perhaps it’s because rather than being a stimulation that can instantly disappear, this torture is triggered by real harm. The sheer size of the two cocks is stuffing them tight against my inner walls, where I can feel the paste already burning inexorably away my intimate flesh.

I’m bucking wildly in an instinctive futile effort to escape the agony, my back curved into an impossible arch, because I don’t care anymore if I dislocate my shoulders. My screams are constant – the sound loud through the open hole of the gag. I only pause when I’m forced by human limitations to inhale.

I’m not really aware of how violently I’m pitching from side to side, but it must be quite something, for at Salarin’s command Ja-Alixxe straddles me again, preventing me throwing myself accidentally off the bed. My cousin is solidly built, but I’m thrashing around so ferociously underneath her I still fling her off once, like we’re playing at some twisted rodeo. Sweat covers the whole surface of my skin within seconds.

This universe where there only exists torture goes on for me for what feels like eternity, but it’s probably only minutes that pass before I start becoming too exhausted to strain any more. The fiery agony from the phalluses inside me has barely reduced, but I am over the peak of the pain, or else the pain receptors in my vagina and anus have been scorched away. With returning awareness, I find I’ve rolled onto my side at some point, and I’m facing Salarin. My face is streaked with a mixture of snot and tears.

It’s hard to imagine how, in this state, I might be attractive to anyone, but apparently that is the case.

This is when he chooses to lift his robes and exposes his penis – perhaps the ugliest example I’ve ever seen – a heavy veined, eyeless worm, the engorged blood turning it darker than the rest of his pale skin. He has a nest of unkempt pale grey pubic hair, and his testicles are uneven in their withered sacks of skin.

My revulsion to the faction leader’s cock makes no difference preventing his knotting his fist into my dark hair, and guiding that hateful organ towards the ring of my mouth. The first thrust of it takes the crown right to touching the back of my throat, and even amid the fiery pain from my pelvis, I can’t help gagging when he pushes against my tonsils. I’m instinctively trying to close my jaws, but the metalwork prevents me.

I know logically that he doesn’t intend to suffocate me on his penis, but he holds himself there for long enough that my body’s reflexes take over, and with my throat blocked, a new panic takes me. It’s a mercy when he pulls back, even if it’s not a complete withdrawal. The underside of his foul head still presses down on my tongue. I suck in a frantic breath, and cough and splutter as much as is possible with one’s mouth open, discharging more mucus and mess over my face.

After staking his claiming to me with the first deep throat, Salarin proceeds to steadily rape my mouth, thrusting back and forth at an even pace. He uses my tongue to stimulate the underside of himself. At regular intervals he probes deeply again, right to the back of my throat, in the same manner as he began. I do not become tolerant to this, and choke reflexively with eyes streaming each time.

“Look at her, Ja-Alixxe,” he orders my beautiful cousin one time when I’m gagging. “Have you ever seen anything so pathetic? She once believed she was a warrior, but look how easily men master women like her.”

At the beginning of the oral rape, I struggled as always to prevent the latest invasion, but efforts at resistance only intensified the pain from the artificial cocks corroding my vagina and anus. Soon I feel myself becoming inert, as the sensory overload begins to disconnect my consciousness. I feel like I’m looking down on myself, looking utterly pathetic, just as Salarin said. Chained and broken, covered in sweat, tears and snot, gagging on the cock of the universe’s vilest man.

They say Salarin can only become aroused by women’s suffering. Well, I must be suffering greatly then, for his orgasm doesn’t take much longer to arrive than mine did. Just before the faction leader climaxes, he withdraws almost completely, retreating as far as my lips. I wonder briefly if he wants to ejaculate over my face, as many men want to do with their women, but no. His cock pulses, and he shoots his seed onto the surface of my tongue, so that I can’t immediately swallow it, and thereby I’m forced to retain the taste of him.

“Get used to that inside you, slave girl!” Salarin crows. “Plenty more cum where that came from.”

I rarely accept defeat, but as I inhale his disgusting flavor, I allow myself a moment to wallow in the totality of my downfall.

How few days ago was it that I was Djenerion, and free? Now I’m a ruin of that person – a thing utterly degraded. I have an implant embedded deep into my brain, a slave mark on my cheek, milk seeping from my chest, and nanotech injected in my organs that will change me for life. I’m chained, naked, raped over and over, and destined to be raped over and over. Men will decide everything for me from now on, so my future is to be abused over and over until the day they tire of me.

Helplessly I flex the fingers of my bound hands, my physical form staring out into the room while I watch from above.

Ja-Alixxe, I see is weeping openly.

“Don’t relax yet, cunt!” says Salarin to me. “I saved the best until last.”

I think that this can’t get worse, but I’m wrong. Leaning over me, he insinuates his fingers into the waistband of my harness, and gives an almighty heave, almost lifting me from the bed by my pelvis. The pain that had reduced to red heat flares white once again, and in spite of the sense of disconnection, I still feel the contact with every nerve.

I’m watching myself, but I’m also drowning, drowning in a sea of lava. My body strains – my face distorted with the effort to escape the restraints, and I submerge. “Don’t black out, Ajeedie,” I urge myself, “You have orders!”, but my physical form is not listening. I see myself shudder and close my eyes, I float away, and for a while there is the sweet relief of nothing.

23 – Night

The first thing I see when I open my eyes is Ja-Alixxe’s naked backside, her backside right there just in front of my face. I’m lying on my side, half-way down Salarin’s gigantic bed. My cousin lies on her belly, draped across her owner, one knee drawn slightly up, naturally spreading her toned cheeks enough that from my angle, I have an obscene view between her legs to her vulva and her anus, both silvered from the cruel implantation of those pain stimulators. Something is drying at the cleft of her buttocks, and I grimace in disgust. Sperm. How long have I been out? Was I so deeply unconscious that someone, Salarin probably, had time to rape my cousin in the ass, and I never knew?

The room is in semi-darkness. The ring gag has been removed from my mouth, but the mattress underneath me is damp, and my face feels wet. I slept with my mouth open perhaps, or I’ve been crying in my dreams. I try to move my arm to dry my face, but I only succeed in shifting my hands by a couple of inches before I’m stopped by a soft jingle from the chains. I’m still in the restraints, then. How bad is the rest of my situation? I draw my wrists as far up my spine as I can, then push into the mattress to lever myself up and see.

Gods… the discomfort that even this basic action triggers is so intense I can barely move. I look down over my naked oozing breasts and the hourglass of my waist. The harness straps still run tight around the feminine curves of my hips, and the third strap runs down from my abdomen to form the gusset. I don’t need my eyes to know the cocks are still inside me. It feels like I’m being impaled up to my throat. My genitals are still burning, and it feels like I’ve been scarred forever inside, but we’re well past the worst. The torture is no longer a mind-consuming agony.

I try to move some more, persevering, ignoring the pain. I discover I’ve torn a muscle in my shoulder – testament to the violence of my struggles, and when I swallow, I find the disgusting taste of Salarin’s cum has remained in my mouth. The pace of each movement is dreadfully slow, inhibited both by the compulsion to move silently while in my chains, and by my discomfort, and yet inexorably I do progress. Up, up, so gradually up, until I’m beside the head of the sleeping Salarin. Shifting to my knees in a position much like that of a pleasure slave, I pause and look sadly down at my cousin.

Ja-Alixxe lies across her owner with a clenched hand stretched out to him, as though she fell asleep midway through pleading for some salvation that never arrived. Her hair is draped across her face, obscuring her eyes. Gods, how have the two of us come to this - implanted sex slaves, under the absolute control of such cruel masters? I have this detestable collar around my neck. And my cousin has been so immunized to her status that she didn’t even make the effort to hide or clean dried semen from her rump.

I hold back the maternal urge to wipe her, to restore her. Poor cousin! I forgive you for what you did all those years ago. It helps me knowing that whatever unbearable punishment will soon be inflicted on me, at least my actions might spare you from him.

I shuffle further round, so my back is almost turned towards Salarin, and my hands, supporting me, are pressing into the mattress right next to his head. This won’t be easy while I’m chained, but I don’t know when the next chance will come. I can separate my wrists only just wide enough apart to accomplish the job. Confidence will be the key. Grasp his head between my hands, while sitting as close to him as I can get, and finish him in one clean fast movement – too quick to raise the alarm. I plan to wrench the faction leader’s skull round with all my strength, breaking his neck and damaging the windpipe beyond repair.

Goodbye, Salarin, I mouth silently. I’m acting because I’m under compulsion, but even if it means my death, I’d do it for me, for the galaxy’s women.

The moment is now.

Taking a deep breath, I commit, and begin to rise. Just in time for my shock collar to activate.

My muscles lock as immediately and as dramatically as always. Stiff as a plank of wood, I’m flung back off the bed by my own muscles, and I strike my head hard on the floor, launching bright orbs of light which spin before me. Meanwhile, pandemonium erupts in the room. The lights go on, bright as day. I hear Ja-Alixxe shouting something. Guards rush in as I lie completely helpless, jerking spasmodically.

And then there’s silence. The collar deactivates. I lie inert, panting, looking up at the ceiling as the electric pain fades.

“Chief?” one of his guards says uncertainly.

“Everything is fine,” I hear the voice of Salarin say calmly. “Just dealing with a disciplinary matter. Leave us.”

“You sure?” the guard dithers.

“Go!” snaps Salarin, and I hear booted feet hurrying away.

“Get up, Ajeedie,” Salarin says to me, sounding weary now. “Kneel. Slave position.”

Apparently, I’m still under some level of his control after all, for I’m moving before I know it. Shuffling awkwardly in the binders, I kneel to face his reprisals, with my thighs apart and my hands behind me, much as I did while waiting at the start of the evening. Ja-Alixxe’s eyes are filled with tears. In her hand is a small control device – the activator for the collar. So she fired it. She must hate Salarin so much, and yet she still was compelled to save him.

But she seemed to be asleep. Unless she wasn’t? If she was faking – ordered to pretend to sleep while waiting on guard – then I’ve been discovered. I was discovered, some time ago.

“How long have you known?” I say, defeated.

“Morg recognized you at the Cum Race,” says Salarin. “He told me that one of the strike team sent to retrieve Tisya had been spared the Elmek, and was hidden with the other Okhoron.”

It takes me a moment to recall the name. Morg. Ah, the messenger who arrived to tell Charax that he and his men were part of Salarin’s faction. He asked who we were, these women dangling naked from their wrists. These are the strike team, Charax told him. He told him we were the ones responsible for all this chaos.

No doubt when Morg saw me in the arena, he wondered why I’d avoided being given to the Elmek Fetish along with the others. Yes, yet again, the Gods doomed me before I’d begun.

“But you let me continue? You let me into your chamber?” I ask.

“There aren’t many downsides to implanted women being forced to obey their master’s every command,” replies Salarin, “but one of them is that the chip makes slave girls impossible to interrogate. If a woman has been ordered not to talk, you can chop her to pieces, and she’ll still stay silent. So you wouldn’t betray your master. I needed to see how things played out first. It seems you were instructed to kill yet again.”

I shrug.

“It’s possible you don’t even understand the full extent of your orders yourself,” he says. “A master can compel an implanted female to forget, if he wants.”

That seems likely. I’d noticed myself that I got irritated trying to recall the time after my capture.

“What next, for me?” I ask hopelessly.

“Next, stand,” Salarin says simply.

I obey, the harness and its implements of torment still making my movements difficult.

“Yes, definitely still some compulsion,” muses Salarin. “Ja-Alixxe, you stay here. Ajeedie, you will walk in front, and proceed as I direct. No stupid moves. Or it’s the collar again.”

He needn’t have worried. I’m not planning to try and complete my mission anyway, at least not for now. It would have been difficult enough with Salarin asleep. While he’s alert, slave chains and a shock collar render me completely harmless.

“That way,” he says, indicating a door at the other end of the bedchamber. It isn’t the way I was brought in here. Some private place, perhaps?

I proceed towards the door, shuffling barefoot, once again in the short steps defined by the limits of my restraints. Beyond the exit, I find myself moving through areas fitted to address Salarin’s sexual preferences. Torture chambers with facilities far beyond the shelves in his bedchamber. Racks, benches, crosses and ironwork for the restraint of victims. Devices which inflict pain through heat; cold; electricity; lashing, beating; cutting; choking; drowning; impalement; penetration; crushing; caging, confining, stretching. The horrors just go on and on, and jingling softly, I shuffle between them.

Then, stairs descend to a lower floor, a prison level when the unfortunates who satisfy these desires in those rooms are kept, women who live locked away in almost perpetual darkness. They fear most the coming of the light, for the light means a visit to the place of torment above. There is no cooling circulation of air like on the upper levels, and it’s stiflingly hot down here.

On the many planets where slavery is legal, a man might need to save for his whole life to accumulate enough credit to buy a high-quality slave from Aghara-Penthay. A wealthy man may perhaps own a few premium slaves, and also some of the cheaper creatures, whose inferior attractiveness has them assigned to domestic duties. Down here, I pass as many as twelve occupied cells, twelve of the most attractive individuals I’ve ever seen, each worth a small fortune, twelve, just for Salarin’s sexual appetite. Surprisingly one is a male – chiseled features and muscles like a young god. Each of the eleven women would have been considered beautiful enough for the Rape Run, and would fetch a shameful price at auction. All shrink back as we pass, hoping that this time, Salarin isn’t here for them.

At the end of this exhibition of beauty are empty cages – the same number of cells as were occupied. And then we come to the very last cage. Salarin orders me to step back well beyond attacking range, and unlocks the barred door. With a gesture, he beckons me onward.

A man is in here, a man suspended from the ceiling by means of shackles locked to his wrists. He is naked – something that’s unusual to see in a male on this world, where their sex is supreme, and where clothing marks the wearer’s free status. Even the divine godlike creature I passed back there was granted a small loincloth, while the females kept around him were nude.

This man is tall, gangly, but toned. An athlete, rather than a lifter of weights. Two things about him claim my attention. The first - he is currently rampantly hard, so his engorged genitals naturally draw my eye, and I see a metal ring locked tightly around his penis and scrotum, right down at the root. It cuts in so deeply I’m surprised the blood can flow to maintain his erection. I see no sign of a hinge or join, so it looks as though, once fitted, it’s impossible to remove without ripping his sex organ away. No doubt it’s also smart tech, and has functions other than being decorative. I assume it maintains his tumescent organ, as there’s nothing else in this cell that might arouse.

His monstrous erection is the first thing about him I notice. Second is his identity, instantly recognizable even though his face has been beaten bloody. It is Charax.

24 - Power

The urge to act, to do something to save him, is almost overwhelming. But I don’t know what that act might be. I tense my hands into fists, wishing to fight, but the most appropriate enemy is unclear.

“Order your slave to calm herself,” says Salarin, unconcerned.

“Be calm,” Charax says. His voice is only a croak – a feeble shadow of the natural authority he’d had when we last met. Has he been screaming, or is he just dehydrated? He is not himself, but my need to move still departs immediately on his command.

“You see, Charax, your plan is now entirely undone,” Salarin says with satisfaction. “It was clever. She is a pretty assassin, and you must have known I couldn’t resist her connection to the pet.”

My master frowns, puzzled, and Salarin continues, “Ahh… you didn’t know. Not so clever, perhaps? This one is Ja-Alixxe’s cousin. Who doesn’t enjoy bringing families together?”

“But now it’s over, she has to resume facing justice,” Charax insists, barely a whisper. Really? He’s this deep in the shit, and that’s his first thought?

“Perhaps, perhaps not,” Salarin says nonchalantly. “Most slaves are unable to harm males. I might have use for the rare one that’s a killer. And then you have to consider, that she is a spectacular fuck.”

I flinch.

“She should die,” croaks Charax. “She killed the Alien. And Lotho-Etsarra.”

“You’re hardly in a position to make that argument,” chides Salarin, echoing my sentiments for once, “and the slave is not your first priority. I’m the one you should be worried about.” He reaches out and seizes Charax’s rampant penis in his fist, squeezing tightly. Charax cries out – the loudest sound I’ve heard him emit since my arrival.

Salarin pulls the erection towards him, Charax moving with it, and then releases his hold, so the prisoner swings from his restraints.

“You see, Ajeedie probably won’t talk under torture,” says Salarin. “But you, Charax, are a different matter. We’ve already seen you’re a screamer. It might please me to inject your feeble manhood with something so painful you’d try to tear it out, just to end the suffering.”

“Do what you must,” whispers Charax. “We both know I can’t stop you.”

“Yes, I would be able to make you talk,” says Salarin. “You or your ally the medic, anyway. That’s right… he is being brought into custody as well. But for short while, you can delay me from inflicting more torture, by telling me what I want to know. First - what did you do to this girl?”

Charax twitches, as though he’s making a last attempt to pull at his bonds. Then he gives in.

“Her chip has been configured so the only man she’s unable to harm is me,” Charax says. “And also, that the only man she’s compelled to obey is me.”

“But there’s still some form of male control?” queries Salarin. “I’ve witnessed it for myself. She responds too quickly to be obeying from conscious thought.”

“A proxy,” says Charax. “When I briefed her, I commanded her to obey other men just as though she has a regular implant. I told her to do that in all circumstances, to protect the secret, except when it became essential to fulfil her primary commitments to me.”

Salarin laughs, shaking his head and tutting.

“Well, that confirms it. What you did is highly illegal, Charax. Solo implants are very unpredictable, that’s why we banned them. There’s too much chance of a loophole arising in the programming hierarchy. What happens if you order her to harm yourself, for example?”

“She must act in my best interest,” answers Charax. “Her mission required limited ability to use her own judgement. She will act in my best interest, even if that means ignoring an order I give, or causing me limited damage.”

Salarin laughs again.

“Limited damage… Let’s explore that logic. What if I threatened to kill you, unless she bites off that erect prick, and eats it right here, for example?”

Charax looks up anguished at his shackled wrists.

“Answer,” orders Salarin.

“If she believed your threat, she would probably do it.”

“Excellent. Then, Ajeedie? I will kill your…”

“No!” Charax moans. “Please!”

Salarin chuckles.

“Of course not – that would be far too soon. But I do promise to castrate you in the future, when it pleases me. I want you to have time to anticipate that day. For now, your current best interest is to tell Ajeedie that she will become my slave, while you will remain in my custody. Make sure she understands that the moment she steps out of line, I will ensure that the manner in which you broke our laws is exposed. Then the Slaver council will sentence you to be implanted yourself, and you’ll finish your days standing with the male slaves on The Hub. So it is very much in your best interests that Ajeedie remains docile, and under my total control.”

Charax does not answer. He lowers his head in defeat.

“Good. Now tonight, I’m tired, and I think we’re nearly done here, but before we go, it’s probably also in your best interests that I allow Ajeedie to relieve your arousal, no? Human males should only maintain an erection for a couple of hours, and the control ring you’re wearing has kept you permanently hard for over two days. It becomes damaging, both psychologically and physically, if a man remains engorged for too long. How desperate you must be, for that one touch that will push you over the edge?”

Again Charax does not answer. He can see that Salarin is taunting him.

“So if you want it, beg me, Charax. Beg me, as though you’re a slave girl.”

Charax pauses for a moment, and then speaks.

“Master,” he says. “Please have the girl relieve me.”

“No, say ‘this slave girl begs’.”

Charax grimaces.

“This slave girl begs to have Ajeedie relieve me.”

“Maybe once I’ve chopped off your cock, I should have you transformed in the bacta, like we did with Leshan?” taunts Salarin. “It would amuse me to see you live out your time as a female.”

I feel no sympathy for Charax, this man who had me stripped and gang raped, and wants me punished. And yet the compulsion to intervene, to help him, is strong.

“Master?” I humbly ask Salarin, tense with my urge to ease Charax’s arousal.

“Enough!” snaps Salarin. I clench my chained fists again, but the implant compels me to inertia. I’ve been in the faction leader’s company a matter of hours, and I loathe him already. How can Ja-Alixxe handle it for day after day?

“Ajeedie, my slave, follow me,” Salarin says, making for the exit from the cell. I look uncertainly back at my true master.

“Master, please,” Charax pleads, flailing his bare legs.

“Charax – fear not,” Salarin calls back. “I shall find the ugliest female on Aghara-Penthay, and send her to bring you to climax. She will be the only grade of pussy you’re getting from now on.”

I must obey, obey as though I have a regular implant. With my chains jingling once more, I’m already shuffling after my new master, back past the cells of his unfortunate victims. During the walk he talks, conversationally, as though nothing of consequence has happened today, as though he hasn’t just abused the luckless Charax, as though I don’t still have those burning cocks strapped inside me.

“Now you’ve seen proof that I have Charax,” Salarin tells me, “He will be moved to a safer location. “Somewhere outside the palace, beyond any form of rescue attempt. So, before you even think it, there’s no point you trying anything new, at least not if you value his life.”

“Yes, Master,” I say softly.

Surprising myself, I realize I don’t feel any worse for the scene I’ve just witnessed. My implant compels me to serve Charax, but I suppose it’s not as though I feel any positive emotions towards that man who wants me dismembered, and then slowly devoured by the Elmek. Wagner said it would take many days of suffering before the rest of my team succumbed to the slow torture. They must be still alive, the poor women from the rest of my team. Morine, Beana, Illyri, Ak-Mancheen, Diaz, Ko, Norenda, but what about Orteza? What did happen to Orteza? However, living for longer as Salarin’s slave might not be better than a brutal death under Charax. After our capture, Diaz told us that hope was not lost until the Gods end us, but now she’s there on the Elmek world, she might have changed her mind on that.

Mounting some stairs, the flexing of my lower limbs shifts the fake penises inside me, and I grunt with pain. The sound of my suffering attracts Salarin’s attention.

“We’ll have to replace that collar with something more long term,” he muses. “Implants like yours can’t be trusted, and there needs to be a way to keep you permanently pacified.”

“As you wish, Master,” I reply.

“And I like the sight of a woman’s bare throat,” he continues, barely listening to me. Then he stops for a moment as something occurs to him. “What about...? Yes. There’s a poetic irony to that idea. And what’s more, you’d be similar enough - it might solve everything. Yes, why didn’t I think of that before?”

The faction leader continues on his way.

Whatever lies ahead for me, I know it’s not going to be good.



25 Council

Aghara-Penthay is no different to other worlds across the galaxy in one respect – the planet still requires governing and administration. Thus, nine days after my encounter with Charax in the dungeon, a council meeting of the three faction leaders takes place.

Until today, I’ve been forbidden from leaving the boundaries of Salarin’s palatial home. I hear from other slaves that are sent beyond the walls, it’s pretty much open season on molesting women running errands round Aghara-Penthay’s settlements. Perhaps my new master considers me too tempting a delight. However, within the vast complex of the chief’s palace, his faction knows better than to mess with one of the leader’s favorites.

Salarin likes his prize girls to be fit and desirable, so Ja-Alixxe and I are obliged to exercise daily. Wearing only the red wraps of slave women, it becomes routine that we make for Salarin’s private gym. In most respects, I am not displeased with this duty. There may come a time when my athletic prowess is again valuable. My problem, is that the men like to watch us. Often idle males gather to enjoy the sessions, and when we’re ordered to exercise nude, we must obey.

Nights in the faction leader’s palace also follow a routine that soon becomes familiar to me. A female is summoned to the bedchamber. Occasionally it is one of those I saw below in the cells, but most often it is Ja-Alixxe, or myself, or both. The unlucky nocturnal companion is tortured until the leader becomes aroused enough to rape her. When Ja-Alixxe, or another female, is chosen, she shares his bed afterwards. I do not. Even though Charax has probably been relocated, Salarin still does not trust me entirely, so I spend every night on the floor, in restraint, listening.

The nanotech injected into me thanks to the casual instruction “lesbian tendencies” does not take long to make its impact felt. If I’m denied the touch of a woman for much more than a day, the craving becomes overwhelming. The obligation to be milked by a female does not help. On one occasion, my need becomes so desperate, I’m forced to beg for a woman. I find myself thinking about other females for more and more of the day. But Ja-Alixxe has the primary claim on my emotions – she’s so beautiful, so resilient. Is it possible I could be developing romantic feelings for the cousin who betrayed me?

When I’m not in sexual service to male or female, or performing my mandatory exercises, then so long as Salarin is busy, I have surprising freedom. I explore his palace complex, and find much more than living quarters – there are meeting rooms, stores containing great wealth, and rooms for his private support staff. Only the underground area is locked and inaccessible to me. I’m unable to confirm whether Charax has been relocated or not.

My true master is somewhere, perhaps still naked and restrained. But without more direction, I can do nothing but continue on the basis of our last encounter. That means I am Salarin’s slave.

My first time away from Salarin’s palace is when he takes me to the council meeting. Today, as part of the Sadist’s retinue, we proceed to ancient chamber with sandstone walls, containing eight heavy thrones, each carved from a single piece of rock. Eight faction leaders must have been the highest number there’s been in Aghara-Penthay’s history, but currently only three are occupied. Salarin, Cronorgan and Monad.

Behind each of the enthroned Chiefs sits three of his bureaucrats. A fleet captain who oversees the faction’s piracy and capture of victims, a contracts adviser, responsible for the faction’s finances and retail agreements, and finally - the manager of the faction’s slaves, who deals with training, processing, and all matters from captives’ arrival up to their point of sale.

The final attendees are us – the women. Men are a competitive gender, and each Chief brings a slave to kneel at his feet – someone intended to prove to his comrades that it is he who can possess the most desirable woman in the galaxy. And beauties they are… It’s been two days since I was with another female, so I’m probably as hungry for the pleasures of one of these creatures as the men.

At Cronorgan’s feet kneels a stunning example of the Gaianesian species, distinguishable from humans by irises of a deep purple shade, and a pattern of markings on her forehead in a similar color. Cronorgan keeps his hand knotted in this woman’s hair for the entire duration of the council. I recall that Gaianesian females have an involuntary response – a reflex – which renders them sexually receptive when their hair is pulled. Perhaps this is true. Certainly, at even the least movement which causes a tug, I notice there is an instant when the girl’s eyes defocus, she stares into space, and her lips part sensuously.

Monad’s beauty is also of an alien species. In body shape, she is much like a human female, only with this woman her skin has a blue-green iridescent shimmer that I find very alluring. Her eyes are also completely black, with no trace of irises. Instead of hair, such as is found on a human, protruding from her scalp are thick tubes of flesh, as though dreadlocks could be coated in the same shimmering skin. Perhaps these growths cannot be cut like regular hair, for the girl’s fronds are grown long enough to reach her thighs. Monad has looped the strands round and round her throat, and he keeps the loose ends behind her head, gripped in his fist. By pressing his knee between her shoulder blades while pulling against the tight coils, he uses them to restrict the woman’s breathing. She’s gradually choking, and even considering her strange iridescent skin, I can tell the color of her face is unnatural.

Salarin is a cruel and sadistic master, but Monad is worse - nothing but a brutal animal. He is so crude, so basic. Look at her: she is quite exceptional, and he just wastes her. If what the girls whisper is true and he can only achieve climax through death, then he is sicker than my master. And if this is just some show of his wealth, then that’s equally pathetic, throwing away such a valuable asset.

I must hide the contempt I feel for all of them, so I look down at the floor and let my dark hair fall forward to veil my face. The curtain flows down the pale skin of my breast. My hair is my only covering – we’ve all been stripped, that the men might better admire each other’s slaves. Unfortunately Salarin seems to like touching it, so after only a short opportunity for hiding my face, he gathers up the long strands in a rope and pulls my head up, similar to the way Cronorgan did with the Gaianesian female. I shiver with revulsion, as I always do when the chief and I have physical contact.

My nipples are erect – an unfortunate result of my nanotech-enforced arousal, and more humiliatingly, I can smell my warm sex organ. I pray no one else notices. At least I’m not oozing milk today. For some reason, before coming here the faction leader injected me with a hormone which inhibits the production.

“It will just stop it for a few hours,” he told me with cruel mirth.

“Gentlemen,” says Cronorgan, by way of opening, “welcome. We gather in better circumstances than our last meeting. I trust you all have the disorder which was caused by the Djenerion raid resolved?”

“There are still some rumblings,” grumbles Salarin from behind me. “One serious attempt to depose me was suppressed…” he gives the smallest tug on my hair as a reminder, “and some enemies still remain hidden. For example, there was a murder within my household only yesterday. I’ve been obliged to increase security, keeping more of the White Rapers in the palace.”

“I’m glad you remain well,” Cronorgan says politely. “Was the victim someone significant?”

“A minor official. Name of Morg,” says Salarin. “It’s possible his killing is not even connected to me. A dispute over a girl, perhaps?”

“Then let’s forget him, and move onto serious business. Chiefs, I’ll remind you of your obligation to provide contestants for next year’s Rape Run. Our diminished numbers will necessitate each of you providing more of the highest value females in the galaxy.”

“My faction is the most powerful of them all now,” Monad growls. “Girls will be found.”

“My faction has made new hires of bounty hunters, and they’re making up for the untimely death of Egregious Klink,” says Salarin. “We already have a female shapeshifter – very beautiful in her true form – stored in hibernation. She will be revived in time for The Run.”

“Any others?” asks Cronorgan. He gives another pull on the Gaianesian slave’s hair. Her She gives an erotic grunt, and her eyes roll back in her head.

“I have agents trying to find Coda Loraft,” says Salarin.

“The gymnastic archaeologist? She’d make a fine Rape Runner.”

“Yes,” agrees Salarin wearily, “but unfortunately she knows it. She favors working on worlds under female authority, worlds where it’s difficult for our usual cunt catchers to go. But we’ll track her down one day. Women are weak. Cunt betrays cunt.”

“Good,” says Cronorgan.

“What about you, Cronorgan?” growls Monad. “You have to provide tail, too.”

“We have agents trying to set up a sting,” says Cronorgan. “To lure Suseya Nirolara somewhere where we can take her.”

“The news anchor?” says Salarin. “She’s certainly a fine piece of woman flesh. And she has a strong voice. I bet she’d be a screamer. But we had a broadcaster this year… Perhaps another time.”

“We could make use of her broadcasting talents,” Cronorgan says smoothly. “It would be entertaining to have her anchor the Aghara-Penthay news, and do it naked.”

“It’s true, she’d be nicer to look at than Wagner,” Salarin agrees from behind me. “Keep me posted.”

“You have a particular interest in her?” says Cronorgan.

“Nothing important.”

“Then, onto our next matter,” Cronorgan continues. “Leaders: our new chief has attracted much attention from the galactic media. Monad… Do you accept your title: ‘The Brute’?”

“Aghara-Penthay rules by fear,” is Monad’s response. “Women will fear The Brute. Won’t you, huh, slit?” He twists his fist to tighten the coils around the alien girl’s throat, and she emits a gurgling rasp. Her expression turns more anguished, and she raises her hands to her neck, trying to pull those fronds away enough to breathe, but Monad barks, “No! Hands you your thighs,” and she resumes the classic slave position immediately.

“I hope you don’t intend to do that to too many Rape Runners,” says Cronorgan with disapproval. “It defeats the purpose of The Run if we can’t sell the captives afterwards.”

“I will do as I wish,” is Monad’s only answer.

“Anyway,” says Cronorgan, averting his eyes from the girl’s suffering, “Let us move on to matters of trade. Salarin – I believe your man is waiting to brief us on the situation on Dodayosk.”

“Hadash,” calls Salarin, and a dark-skinned man in robes made of luxurious fabric steps forward. On his arm is the emblem of Salarin’s faction.

“Chiefs,” Hadash begins respectfully, “The planet Dodayosk lies beyond the Republic fringes, out in the Western Spiral. Their society has no official government, being in a state of near anarchy, comprising feuding crime lords struggling to control territories. Dodayosk is far from Aghara-Penthay, and would matter little to us except for one matter – rich supplies of rare bioconductor materials mean that almost the galaxy’s biochip manufacturers are located there – each production site under the jealous protection of some two-bit gangster. And yes, to pre-empt your question, that includes the only remaining producer of implant chips.”

“Previously there were more manufacturers of our chips, but once implantation was outlawed by The Republic, the others were gradually closed down. Two years ago, years by the standard galactic reckoning, Aghara-Penthay became reliant on Dodayosk’s one factory for its supply of implant chips, and that meant dealing with the local warlord of the territory – a man named Yarook.”

“Dodayosk is too remote for us to wish to trade in slaves there directly, so we were satisfied when an appropriate deal was struck by Salarin for suppling slaves of various grades to Yarook in exchange for chips, however, Yarook is fully aware of his monopoly and has recently begun squeezing us.”

“Over time Yarook’s terms have become more and more unreasonable. In exchange for the last shipment of chips Yarook demanded double the previous number of slaves, and for the next batch, he wants double again, plus one particular premium female.”

Monad cuts in dismissively, “Aghara-Penthay was successful for many years before there were implants. Let us bomb this Yarook out of existence as a lesson to the galaxy.” He loosens his grip for a moment and the alien woman’s chest heaves as she sucks in a rasping breath of oxygen.

“That’s one possibility,” interjects Cronorgan, “although our unique capability to supply passive and implanted stock does add millions of credits to our economy. Distasteful as it is, we must consider dancing to this fellow’s tune, at least until he can be replaced with someone more co-operative.”

“That would make us appear weak,” growls Monad, resuming his stranglehold, “and that is unacceptable, when Slavers rule by fear.”

“There is still the possibility of recovering the situation without adverse publicity, dread Chief,” Hadash continues smoothly. “Yarook previously dealt with Salarin, and some of the issues resulted from a clash of personalities, but he is willing to receive a fresh negotiating team under certain conditions.”

“Why are we discussing this, then?” grunts Monad. “Go and suck his dick dry, Hadash.”

“It’s not that easy, Chief Monad. Yarook is paranoid we will attempt to assassinate or depose him, by collaboration with his rivals,” explains Hadash. “Which is no surprise, really, considering that’s exactly what we would do. Thus, free men of Aghara-Penthay are not permitted inside his stronghold, and our trade exchanges need to be carried out by the rendezvous of agents in space. Yarook says he will only personally receive a delegation of implanted females, where his people can confirm their functionality before they’re admitted.”

“Then he’s just messing with us. Only a fool would send implanted women to act as a delegation,” says Monad. “You might as well gift wrap them. You’ll never see those women again.”

“For once I’m inclined to agree with you,” says Cronorgan, “but for the insignificant price of a handful of women, we might as well test his intentions. I’d prefer to do that than risk our supply of chips forever.”

“He’s not getting even the ugliest piece of cunt from me,” says Monad. “I’d rather cut their throats,” and to emphasize his dismissiveness he flings his girl to the floor, where she lands on her face. The iridescent woman starts pushing herself back up, but Monad barks “Lie there! Wrap those things tighter around your neck.”

The meeting pauses, silent, as he rises to his feet and stands over her, and begins loosening his pants. Meanwhile the female circles the braids of flesh more closely around her throat, compelled to seal her own doom. When Monad pulls out his erect penis – a new challenger for the title of most disgusting example of a cock I’ve seen – I understand he intends to take her right here, in the middle of the meeting. The unlucky female must know what’s coming, but she lies there limp and docile, with the perfect curves of her buttocks presented up to him. Not caring that we’re all watching, Monad collapses on to her, penetrating her ass without the mercy of lubricant. She screams with pain for an instant, but her cry of distress is cut off as soon as he pulls on the living reign which restricts her breathing.

“Is this really necessary?” asks Cronorgan as Monad ruts into her, in front of all of us. “She’s a nice sample, and it’s a waste if you’re going to do this every single time.”

“I’ll sell her to you if you admit you care for her?” Monad grins, but Cronorgan turns away with a dismissive wave.

Salarin’s grip slackens as his attention is absorbed by the scene, and once more I’m able to stare down at my naked body. Gods, I hate being a female. I hate that it pleases men when I’m naked like this. I’m still unused to the changes the Slavers have made to me, and I’m ashamed each time I look at myself. My dark hair, changed to match my poor cousin. My silver nipples and clitoris that mirror her too – pain stimulators, permanently injected into my most sensitive organs, joining the other nanotech so I can be tortured any moment, day or night. True to his word, Salarin replaced the shock collar with the more permanent stimulators. I’d have the hateful piece of tech back, compared to the silver.

“It isn’t just the insignificant price of a handful of women that Yarook demands, lord Cronorgan,” coughs Hadash. “He insists on one particular premium female. Her, and only her.”

“Who?” growls Monad from his vile rutting on the floor. “A cunt is a cunt.”

“Ja-Alixxe.”

Monad pauses his thrusting to roar with laughter.

“So am I wrong, or are we only wasting time discussing this because the dick-sick chief risks the future of Aghara-Penthay, just to avoid sending his favorite?” he says.

“I am not dick sick,” says Salarin in an icy tone. At the same time, he jerks hard on my hair, so again I must look up at the circle.

“I wouldn’t use those particular words,” says Cronorgan, “but I agree that the one Rape Runner has developed more importance than is usual.” He’s staring right at me as he says this, and at first I don’t understand why, until he says, “You’ve had her breasts enlarged to match the one from the Cum Race? I thought you liked the smaller girls.”

“Sometimes a change is good,” Salarin says smoothly.

I can’t hide my surprise. I’m opening my mouth to clarify, but a tug on my hair silences me. Do they think I’m Ja-Alixxe, just because of the hair color and my silver genitals? They do, I realize - the other chiefs think I’m Ja-Alixxe, and he’s playing along. That explains the milk inhibitor. But why does Salarin want them to think I’m Ja-Alixxe? Surely not because…

“A solution presents itself,” says Salarin. “I have a girl. This slave was given a custom implant, by a rogue operative. I dealt with him, but I’ve still kept her. She serves… only me, and she doesn’t have the usual restriction on harming men. Actually, this girl is quite lethal. She’s already proven that. I will send that girl to Dodayosk, as negotiator. She will still pass Yarook’s implantation checks, even under her more limited compulsion. If things go well, good. If they’re not so well, she is no loss. If the situation doesn’t improve, I can activate the bitch at a signal, and have her eliminate Yarook. What they do with her after that, is their business.”

“But Ja-Alixxe?” presses Monad. “What about Ja-Alixxe?”

“Yes, well, take Ja-Alixxe now, if you wish,” says Salarin nonchalantly, and he gives me a little shove between my shoulder blades. “See? I’m not dick-sick.”

“I don’t like using specials,” says Cronorgan, ignoring me. “You know the dangers of custom implants. What if something goes wrong? The Disdyne Paradox? What possessed you to make her?”

“I told you, I didn’t make her. My possession of her is only serendipity. So let the custom female go to Dodayosk. Yarook is screwing us over already. If the girl fails, the worst outcome is that the situation continues,” says Salarin smoothly.

Monad gives a grunt as he reaches final climax inside the alien female. She is limp underneath him by now, and gives no reaction to a last thrust that must be unbearably painful. Carelessly he withdraws his organ, bloody and disgusting, from between her buttocks, and he gets to his feet. I look at the dead female. As with all implanted slaves, we can feel both pity and jealousy when one of our number takes her final journey.

“I agree with Cronorgan,” Monad says, with no sign of conscience for the act he’s just perpetrated. “Even if you don’t lose control of your female, for your plan to work, Yarook would have to keep her close to him. What if he just sells her on?”

“He won’t,” says Salarin, savoring his secret a moment longer, and then revealing it. “Because this is the girl, right here.”

The men all stare at me. I feel my face redden.

“Ja-Alixxe had a normal implant,” disagrees Cronorgan. “I remember when she was brought in.”

“But this is not Ja-Alixxe,” smiles Salarin. “You’re looking at Ja-Alixxe’s cousin, Ajeedie. I thought she would fool you, and I was right. She will fool Yarook in the same way.”

I continue to keep my eyes fixed on the ornate rug.

“Ah, the Okhoron winner,” Cronorgan says eventually. “I’d noticed the similarity at the Cum Race, but with the hair, it becomes uncanny. But I still disapprove. Just send him the real Ja-Alixxe, and send a regular delegation. That’s safer. If Yarook continues to jack the price, we’ll deal with him later.”

“I’m with chief smallcock for once,” says Monad. “If your slave there goes crazy, or Yarook realizes he’s been sent the wrong slit, things will be worse.”

“Your objections are noted, but Yarook is mine to deal with,” says Salarin, and from him previously sounding languid, suddenly the faction leader’s authority is back. “My decision is that Ajeedie goes to Dodayosk.”

“You are my friend, Salarin, but if he is yours to deal with, and this backfires, I can’t support you,” warns Cronorgan.

“Aye, damage our supply route for those chips, and I’ll see your dick gets chopped off,” says Monad menacingly.

“It will be fine,” says Salarin. “I have leverage over the custom female. Ajeedie will do everything I ask.”

I realize I’m holding my breath. Gods be praised, they’re saying I might actually be leaving, and in spite of everything, that gives me hope. Anywhere must be better than here. I arrived on Aghara-Penthay as a free woman, leading a strike team on a dangerous mission. I’d slept with one woman, and been raped by one man. If I go, I will do so as an implanted sex slave, dispatched on a mission on behalf of my master. I’ve been raped more times than I can count, and more rapes are ahead as I become the possession of this Yarook.

But I’ll still take Dodayosk over Aghara-Penthay.

26 - Dodayosk

Spaceports are always located in the poorest neighborhoods of a city, but Dodayosk sets a new low for squalor. I’m amazed that they were able to build a factory for implant chips on this ramshackle world. Junk is piled up against buildings, and flies swarm from open drains running down the middle of the streets. It’s not as hot as Aghara-Penthay, but Dodayosk is a humid world, so the atmosphere feels just as oppressive.

The buildings are as disordered as the government here. With no seasons or zoning rules in this place, all that’s needed is to keep the frequent downpours out and provide some privacy, so the citizens construct their homes from whatever materials are convenient. Barely any buildings have an upper floor. We pass a broken pile of rubble where some structure has collapsed. Children in rags scramble over the remains, searching for anything of value.

“What a hole,” says Secur as we move into the noisy and crowded market district, and I agree with him.

Secur is our escort. Women from Aghara-Penthay can’t be left to travel alone, not when their implants will send them into the arms of the first male who’s feeling horny. The bulk of the slave shipment to Yarook has already been dispatched in the usual manner, so the remainder - a simple chaperoning task for two females, doesn’t need Aghara-Penthay’s finest. Secur is not Aghara-Penthay’s finest. I don’t think I’ve met a lazier male. He doesn’t even make the effort to wash. Secur just shuffles through life looking half asleep. If you gave the guy a million credits or a death sentence, both would get the same shrug in response.

The only thing that wakes him from that torpor is his sex drive. My beauty being to his taste, during rest hours on the two-day voyage I had to let myself be chained in his bunk, and then I was mauled intimately and unendingly. In a last show of possessiveness by Salarin, Secur was ordered by his faction leader not to rape me, but for most of the voyage our escort would grope me whenever he could, getting increasingly angry and frustrated that he could not claim me fully. When he’d had enough of handling the prize woman, he’d dump his vile seed into Edzie. As a girl from the general faction stock rather than a private slave like me, there’s no prohibition for Secur on Edzie’s use.

She has a pretty face and a toned body, but her chest is flat and she’s on the short side. If the gods had given her longer legs, she’d perhaps have been traded as sex slave, rather than retained for administrative duties, but serving upright is Edzie’s destiny. Before capture, she was a trade negotiator for an alliance of planets. She had a degree in contract law. Unfortunately for her, a ship carrying a delegation ran across a Slaver warship. The males were slaughtered, along with those females who had no value. The survivors were brought to Aghara-Penthay for processing.

Edzie is walking stiffly through the market, as though she’s uncomfortable. She is, in fact, uncomfortable. I know the reason for this: her pussy is bruised and sore. After a long voyage, my nanotech craving for female contact became overwhelming. Secur had been briefed that my needs would require sating, but it was left up to him how to ensure the deed was done. Turns out Secur is a member of Salarin the sadist’s faction for a reason. In the end, I was commanded to tie her down, and then told to abuse her precious organ, while using her for my pleasure. Slaves understand the overwhelming power of an implant, and I had no choice, but she’s pissed with me and not speaking all the same.

When sex was over, as a final indignity she was made to suckle my chest. I might be on Dodayosk, but there’s no escaping the torments gifted to me by Aghara-Penthay.

Edzie thinks that as the specialist negotiator, she’s superior to me – “Ja-Alixxe”, someone here only as part of a payment. She doesn’t understand that the opposite is the truth. Edzie is a pawn being sacrificed. She’s a pretext to deliver me, the real problem solver, inside Yarook’s guard. Sending my divine cousin alone, without objection or any attempt to improve the deal, would have provoked suspicion, but a beauty along with the agreed negotiator – that is a different matter. Salarin doesn’t believed Yarook is going to reach a settlement in good faith with an implanted slave. He expects Yarook will seize both of us for himself, and then demand even more. The only reason we’re here is to smuggle me inside Yarook’s walls.

Secur agrees with Salarin’s pessimistic view. But Secur has been kept ignorant of the secret of my implant, and believes he’s delivering nothing more than dumb beasts for slaughter. In the last session of rest hours on the ship, his mounting tension overcame his self-control.

“I figure the odds of you coming back are minimal, so I might as well have my fun,” he sneered to me once I was chained down, and then he took me. “Who’d have thought it? Low-ranking Secur, getting to fuck the famous Rape Runner Ja-Alixxe. Gods, I love Aghara-Penthay.”

Edzie is not the only one who is sore today.

But I must dismiss thoughts of him, and focus on my mission.

On my first visit to Dodayosk, I’m assailed by the new sights, sounds and smells of the market. Most of the traders seem have their stalls under simple canvas canopies. Animals whose names I don’t know are roasted on skewers. Vendors try to attract our attention to buy fabrics, tech, chem.

There is much catcalling and banter between the sellers and buyers. Edzie and I move through this noise, dressed in pants and shirts that look appropriately professional for negotiators. The outfits are tighter around our bodies than I’d have liked, but they cover the skin from ankle to throat, and they’re a lot better than appearing in public wearing a wrap. They’re made from a java-colored fabric suited to the climate, which lets the skin breathe. Rather than reveal the brand of Aghara-Penthay, headscarves of the same material are wound around our faces, hiding our mouths and the cheek which bears the slave mark. We could pass for normal galactic citizens. Women with a future.

“Slaves,” a leering bearded merchant says to Secur, stepping into our path. I think he’s seen through our disguise, but then he says, “Come and see my fine slaves.”

The instruction was to all of us, so of course Edzie and I are compelled, and we follow where the merchant beckons.

A line of luckless individuals are waiting, chained together by collars at their throats. There are four women and three men. They’ve only been given dirty loincloths to wear, regardless of their sex, so the women stand bare-breasted. A man, I assume a potential customer, is busy squeezing the breast of the prettiest female, who looks distressed but does not resist him, not even when he roughly kisses her. I remember that implants are not the only way to control slaves.

“Get away!” cries the merchant to the groper, swatting the man away like he’s a fly. “A thousand apologies noble citizens,” he says to us. “Always that turd is here. Never buys anything. The street of brothels is just over there, but he prefers to touch my slaves without paying. Are you ladies shopping for a man or a woman? Take this one - just look at his muscles and inspect the size of his cock.”

Godsdamn him, another instruction. Compelled again, we crouch down and Edzie unfastens his loincloth, which falls away. She holds his penis and testicles out with her hand, as though she’s a shopper feeling the weight and firmness of a piece of fruit. Perhaps the man has been denied a woman’s touch for too long, for I see his cock swelling almost instantly in Edzie’s hand.

“And you, Sir?” says the merchant. “Your companions know what they want. That boy will fuck them all night, satisfying even the hungriest woman’s appetite. But you, Sir? A woman for you, or is your taste for the boys?”

“Don’t mind those two, we’re not buying, we’re in the trade as well,” Secur replies laconically. “Just professional interest. Girls, stop playing, and come here.”

“You’re all dealers?” asks the merchant, while we retake our positions. “We must have a drink together.”

“They’re not dealers,” drawls Secur, and my stomach starts to clench. Please don’t show him, please don’t show him. Just let me keep my dignity until we get to Yarook.

“Show him your faces,” commands Secur.

I unravel my headscarf enough to reveal my cheek. It feels like the slave mark burns with my shame.

“See?” clarifies Secur, although it’s already obvious. “They’re merchandise.”

“Ja-Alixxe?” the merchant says with awe while we ache with humiliation. “The Rape Runner? I thought she was dead. And you have another implanted slave from Aghara-Penthay? How did you get those two?” But then the merchant seems to remember himself and quickly orders, “Cover your faces, slaves. It’s not safe.”

While we restore our clothing, he hands a small glass of spirit to Secur. Edzie and I will no longer receive any kindness or consideration now he knows what we are. The merchant explains to Secur, “People need to arrange their own law enforcement on Dodayosk. You’ll soon be attacked if word gets around you have women from Aghara-Penthay with you. Even this short one…” and he reaches out and touches Edzie’s cheek, “… is worth thousands of credits. And I dread to think what the Rape Runner would be worth on the auction block. You’ll struggle to find many men on Dodayosk who can afford her, without help. Are you selling them? I can arrange it, customers with the wealth, and protection, for a small percentage.”

“Not today,” answers Secur. “We have to see Yarook.”

“Him?” the merchant says. “Why give more tail to that lazy bastard? Nearly all the slaves go through Yarook now. There’s no chance for the smaller vendors. Slaves, and everything else on this planet. And he just sits there in that palace, with his cock in his latest cooze, and lets his underlings do all the work. You sell through me, and I’ll give you a better price.”

“If it were my choice, I might,” shrugs Secur. “But orders are orders. Maybe later though, if they come out alive, my chiefs will not know the difference if I make up a story, and between us, we make sure the girls vanish.”

“I drink to our good fortune, then. Yarook’s palace is the old fortress, down that way,” says the merchant, indicating the opposite direction to the spaceport. “You can’t miss it. It’s the only substantial building in the city.”

“Thank you,” says Secur.

“Can I just…?” blusters the merchant, who hasn’t taken his eyes from us since he saw the marks, “test them? It’s a rare treat to have an implanted woman to play with.”

“As long as you don’t make a scene,” Secur replies genially.

“Strip!” barks the merchant.

There is no denying this order. Secur lets us get as far as reaching for our shirts before he intervenes and says, “Stop. Don’t.” As our implant chips are configured that the primary owner overrides obedience to other men, we’re gratefully able to lower our hands. The merchant’s slaves watch us with open curiosity through this process.

“It’s always a joy to experience,” says the merchant. “If only every woman was as obedient as that. Well, I wish you safe paths and good trade, friend.”

“Come, girls,” says Secur, and we continue through the market, following as helplessly as though he has us on a leash.

“Remember where to find me,” the merchant calls to our backs.

Secur raises his hand to show we’ve heard.

We make our final steps toward the palace, which as the merchant said, is impossible to miss. It’s an enormous structure with high walls of a deep red sandstone, much like the oxide ground of Aghara-Penthay. I see no windows facing the outside world, but there are guards watching from the high battlements. Dread builds in me as I anticipate the inevitable outcomes of our mission.

“In case you’re worrying about me, don’t,” says Secur maliciously. “While you slaves are getting pounded, I’ll be enjoying myself. Salarin says to give you seven days to get word to me, before I assume the negotiator is lost forever and head for home. Perhaps I’ll visit the street of brothels. It’s been hours since I got laid.”

I brush off the sadism, consoling myself that Secur is entirely non-essential to Charax’ wellbeing, so if I get the chance to go into the settlement alone during this week, I’m going to track Secur down and break his neck. I found Morg on just such a quiet day in Salarin’s palace and obliterated him, wiping out one of the few witnesses connecting me to my master and the strike team. No one suspected a slave could have done the killing. And I can make it look like there was an accident with Secur. Anyone who knows him will believe he was that dumb.

A gigantic portcullis marks the entrance to the fort. It seems to be the only way in or out, with the battlements too high to escape. Such a gateway only needs one guard, for attackers without a siege blaster would have no chance of breaking through. As we approach this guard, Secur draws himself up and assumes an air of authority. Asshole. Asshole who came inside me. One day, I’ll make him pay.

“Trade negotiators from Aghara-Penthay,” Secur says pompously. “Here to see Yarook.”

The guard looks Secur up and down with barely disguised contempt. Then he examines Edzie and myself with equally poorly concealed lust. And then he turns and speaks into an intercom. I can’t hear the words from the far end, but he must receive some answer, for he nods and turns back to us.

“Just the females,” the guard barks, and from some unseen control the portcullis slowly starts grinding its way up to the roof.

“Agreed,” Secur replies as though he still has some influence. “Have a nice stay, slaves,” he calls after us.

“Inside, cunts,” the guard orders us, and Edzie and step into a huge arched hall of deep shadows, committing ourselves to a fresh phase of hell. It’s dark after the bright sky over the city.

As the portcullis descends and traps us within, Edzie turns to me and speaks quietly.

“Let me take the lead in any discussions, Ja-Alixxe,” she says, assuming undeserved authority. “You’re just part of the trade, remember, but there’s still a chance for me. If I do well, when I report back I’m going to get special treatment.”

“Your pussy smells infected,” I reply. “If we’re kept here, I advise you to wash more.”

And then the guard calls us onward, and we walk docilely to our doom.

27 - Yarook

At first, I believe the alien who receives us is Yarook, but I quickly understand this is not the warlord himself, but an underling. The man is of the same alien species as the girl I saw serving Monad, with a blue-green iridescent skin, completely black eyes, and tubes of flesh from his skull instead of hair. He is slimly built, barely more muscular than a human woman.

“Follow me, ladies,” he says in a soft, oily voice, so of course we do. “There are formalities which must be completed before you can be taken to the audience chamber.”

The words of Salarin’s administrator Hadash come back to me with dreadful foreboding. “He will only receive a delegation of implanted females, where his people can confirm their functionality before they’re admitted.” Probably, these formalities won’t be pleasant for us. A fresh ordeal is coming, one so unbearable that only a female under compulsion would endure it.

But the place this alien leads me is the palace kitchen. For a moment I think I’ve been anticipating this moment for nothing, and there won’t be an ordeal after all. Then I see the two plates. The thing waiting on each is clearly a penis. A penis with the testicles still attached - the whole lump of flesh covered in a clear slime.

“This dish is a delicacy on Dodayosk,” the alien tells us smoothly. “The genitals are severed from a species of mammal indigenous to this world. They’re buried in the ground for a hundred days, during which time the meat partially rots. Then the flesh is cured in a smokehouse, arresting the decay. It’s a good example of an acquired taste, don’t you think? Those raised to it can’t get enough. For my part, and for everyone lucky enough not to come from Dodayosk, I think it’s the most disgusting thing I’ve ever tried. Here, females, – take these,” and we’re each handed a plate. “Now eat it, and like it.”

My implant forces me to serve only Charax. Charax’ orders are I obey Salarin. Salarin’s instructions echoed Charax’ – i.e. that I must behave as though I’m under the control of a normal implant, and I only break cover if vital for the execution of his will. It’s not as strong a logical imperative as the one compelling Edzie – will I be able to pull this off? But I’ve already taken the phallus from the plate and I’m raising it to my lips (it’s cold, and feels like picking up a giant leech rather than something mammalian) and I bite off the head. The flavor it emits is overpowering – it fills my nose and throat with an odor like rotting meat, but while it should be completely wrong, somehow I find it surprisingly tasty. Edzie, looking as surprised as I’m feeling about the unexpectedly palatable dish, begins to chew with more confidence, and she takes a second bite.

The flesh is not fibrous like a fresh meat. It crumbles as easily as mince. I’m halfway through the meal, with one of the testicles filling my mouth, when the alien speaks.

“Good, that’s enough. If you weren’t implanted, you’d be puking your lungs out by now. Put down the plates, and follow me.”

We’re led on through the palace, climbing steadily towards the upper levels following in the alien’s wake. My spirits sink as my body ascends. Being dressed has reminded me how much less vulnerable a woman naturally feels with clothes. Yarook will look at me the way all men seem to look at me, and all this covering will be taken away again.

I’m expecting to enter a fully enclosed throne room like a fairytale castle, but in the eternally tropical climate of Dodayosk, the audience chamber can be kept on the roof. We’re in a space open to the air, but with ancient columns supporting a vaulted canopy to keep off the rain. While we were in the kitchens, it has started pouring outside, and the voices are raised to be heard over the deluge. There are, I estimate, fifty beings around the throne, comprising all species, races and sexes.

“Lord Yarook, the delegates have arrived from Aghara-Penthay,” says the alien. Everyone looks at us, and we look to Yarook.

In front of the ruler’s throne, a low pillory traps a naked slave woman on her hands and knees. She is not Yarook. Her hips are presented to the throne, so the man I take to be Yarook can fuck her from his seated position, in front of all his guests. The slave is dark-skinned, she has a beautiful body, but her face is her greatest asset, sensuous and strong, even though her expression strained with discomfort from the cock stuffing her.

As for Yarook, he wears a helmet that masks his face. It must assist his breathing, for I can hear the rattling sound of a respirator. One might take him for an alien needing the apparatus for survival in this oxygen rich atmosphere, but the creamy bare arms I see look more like those of a human of middle years, a male gone to seed.

“Women of Aghara-Penthay,” Yarook says – his voice masculine, but synthesized. “Welcome to Dodayosk. Please, remove your headscarves now. We are informal in my palace, and there is no more need to disguise what you are.”

Here I am, wishing to remain covered but being made to undress once again. And yet I immediately unwind the cloth from around my face anyway, feeling exposed with even that little flesh exposed. My midnight hair spills free. I keep my chin up so the warlord has a good view – I figure if I don’t let him inspect me, I’ll simply be ordered to do so anyway. As always, the beauty that’s cursed my life weaves its spell. Yarook has barely noticed Edzie, and his masked locks on to me, but Edzie speaks anyway.

“I am Edzie, Master,” says Edzie. “A negotiator, but an implanted female, dispatched in accordance with your terms. You have the bulk shipment already. And you see here the remainder of the… payment. The Rape Runner and sex slave, Ja-Alixxe.”

“There stands the famous Ja-Alixxe, eh?” says Yarook. He sounds amused, yet oddly skeptical. Why should he be skeptical? “Perhaps. I’ll only be able to tell when she’s showing a bit more flesh. Slaves, strip to the waist.”

The crowd laugh and snicker at our humiliation as we automatically begin to remove our shirts.

“Not too fast, slaves. Keep it slow and sexy,” orders Yarook.

Aghara-Penthay doesn’t retain much stock of regular female clothing, so the bra they gave me is functional rather than being of the erotic variety designed to please a partner. But the watchers crow with delight when I reveal it, and more so when I remove it, gradually pushing the straps down my arms with a slide of my hands. Gods, already I hate this Yarook for making me humiliate myself. Okhoron hypersensitivity makes me particularly aware of my bare skin, and my nipples as always are beading with fluid. My shame must be arousing to the ruler, for Yarook resumes humping the dark-skinned beauty. Gradually - just a few strokes. He doesn’t want to climax yet, not when our degradation is so entertaining, but he doesn’t want to lose his erection either. The girl moans and looks up for a moment, so I see the pale slave mark on her cheek more clearly, but then she slumps her head again. Her breasts are oversized for a woman who is relatively young. On her hands and knees in the pillory, they swing every time Yarook thrusts forwards.

Outside the rain continues to pour.

“Exquisite,” says Yarook with reverence, staring right at my chest with its silver nipples. “And yet… I remember the broadcast of Ja-Alixxe after recapture, walking naked through The Hub. I thought from the screen that her breasts were smaller.”

“Salarin ordered enhancements, Master,” I stammer, “at the same time the stimulators were added. Master will notice also the milk.”

His sycophants think this is hilarious.

“And Ja-Alixxe was proud as a Rape Runner. Spirited. But you answer me, without my even needing to command you. The only thing proud about you is your nipples.”

I’m wrong footed. Not even the other faction leaders recognized the switch, and yet it’s almost like Yarook is playing with me. He seems to know. I must hope for the best though, and carry on playing the role of my cousin. I stand there with my assets on show, and study the slave in the pillory.

Yarook must be following my gaze, for he thrusts his hips forward, making the woman groan.

“Does Trindii interest you, slave? You’ll soon be spending your days where she is,” Yarook says, “so my guests can marvel, how Yarook tames a girl such as you.”

That remains to be seen. I frown.

“Better,” comments Yarook. “There, is a little of the spirit.”

“Master, the Slavers of Aghara-Penthay and Chief Salarin send their greetings, Master Yarook,” Edzie replies, trying to resume some direction. “They hope for a prosperous business partnership, and send us as a sign of their good faith and...”

Yarook interrupts her, calling to the whole room:

“Your companion is a beautiful woman, Edzie” he says, “and I never would have believed that one day I’d have her standing here, with those breasts on show to us all. Answer truthfully - do you think we’d all enjoy seeing her even more if she took her pants off?”

“Yes, Master,” Edzie sighs. At least she realizes that for now, I’m the star attraction, and nothing much will happen until I’ve been suitably humbled.

“Then both of you take off your pants, slaves. Gradually…”

There is more mockery from the crowd as we slip our pants down, baring our lower limbs with painful slowness. We’re only in panties now. I’d pray for some form of salvation if I believed there was the remotest chance of divine intervention happening. My long and elegant limbs make a contrast to Edzie’s shorter form, and I feel still more self-conscious. Yarook charges his lust further, pumping into the pilloried female a few more times, while his mask stays locked on me.

“Why did Salarin send you?” Yarook asks me next, puzzled. “We know enough of this man to be certain that he is no fool. He would not throw two slaves away for nothing, especially not a prize like you.”

I shrug, as though I’m too lowly to consider politics. Yarook turns to my companion.

“Answer, Edzie. Convince me why Salarin sent you pair, and you may keep your panties a little longer.”

“He believes that restoring goodwill between Master Yarook and Master Salarin will result in an improved rate,” says Edzie. “The risk of losing two slaves is nothing compared to that, Master.”

“Maybe that’s all there is to it with you,” muses Yarook. “Maybe that’s all. But why the other one? Does he know? Is this a sign? But back to important matters. Tell me what your companion’s cunt looks like.”

There are snickers of laughter at the sudden crudity. Even some of the women in the crowd are smiling. Edzie hesitates, her face going red. I groan inside. She’s seen enough of me during Secur’s abuse sessions to know the answer, and her implant will make sure she tells the truth.

“She has no hair down there, like most women who have been processed, Master. The flesh – it is quite rounded. Her clitoris is unusually large, and is very visible, Master. It appears silver in color like her nipples. Salarin has permanent pain stimulators injected into it.”

“Good. We’re making progress. Now, you – the one she calls Ja-Alixxe, confirm the details, and show me your nice pussy then.”

So I hook my fingers in the waistband of my panties and gradually slide them down, bending forward as I do so, so my breasts hang forward in the most noticeable manner. I was ordered to be sexy, and he must have sexy. I see my bare womanhood, and that shamefully prominent clitoris silver clitoris that was enhanced on Salarin’s orders. The air on my genitals reminds me again that I am sore.

“Well, well,” says Yarook. “Ain’t that something? How come it’s so big?”

“Processing on Aghara-Penthay, Master,” I answer. “They wanted me to be more sensitive.”

“Excellent. And did the process work? Is it sensitive?”

“Yes, Master.”

“Excellent. I will enjoy banging that sensitive little cunt of yours tonight, then,” and to demonstrate what’s in store for me he pumps a few more times into the pillory. “Will you enjoy me fucking you? Answer truthfully.”

“No, Master,” I reply.

“And yet you came here to stand in front of us all, naked, knowing you will get fucked anyway.”

“Yes, Master.”

“Edzie, why is that woman here?”

I don’t know if Yarook aims to unsettle us by flipping between the humiliation and the interrogation, but it’s working on Edzie, and she’s wrongfooted.

“In fulfilment of the deal, Master,” Edzie stammers.

“You’re lying, and I don’t like liars. You, take off your panties as well,” he says.

Edzie steps out of her final piece of clothing. Side by side, I see her in profile. Her shortness makes the curve of her buttocks seem nicely feminine. She pleases me. She’s in good shape, as are all women from Aghara-Penthay. Slaves are not in control of their diets, and we’re kept underfed because hungry girls are more eager to please.

“You’re lying, Edzie, because the deal was for Ja-Alixxe,” presses Yarook. “And the woman standing there is not Ja-Alixxe.”

“But…” interrupts Edzie.

“Take their clothing away and destroy it,” Yarook’s voice cuts across her, and a servant, a man, gathers up our remaining hopes of dignity from the floor. “Clothing is a privilege for sex slaves in my house, not a right,” explains Yarook, “and it’s certainly not given to liars. You’ll have to earn your next covering. Understand?”

“Yes, Master,” we both docilely acknowledge.

“So, Edzie, if that’s not Ja-Alixxe, it looks as though you’ve been sold out,” says Yarook. “Salarin tries to pass me off with a lookalike, and you’re going to pay the price.”

I glance at Edzie. She’s shaking her head, looking horrified at me.

“But that is Ja-Alixxe,” she pleads as her hope slips away.

“I know it’s not,” says Yarook, “and I’ll show you why.”

He reaches up for the fastening of his helmet, and there is the sound of rushing oxygen as he releases it.

“Don’t, Lord Yarook!” urges the alien. “It’s not safe.”

“I can last a minute or two,” says Yarook, and he pulls the mask away from his face.

And Lord Yarook is revealed. In front of the ruler’s throne, my universe simultaneously ends. I see a human male – his face terribly scarred, but recognizable all the same. I’m not aware that my knees give way, but suddenly I’m on the floor, my senses reeling as I fight the urge to faint, and escape all this through unconsciousness. No, No! It cannot be allowed. I’ve not yet been ordered to remain, so free from compulsion, in blind instinctive horror I turn and try and flee, crawling a pace and then scrambling to my feet. He lets me take a few paces, a predator playing with the prey, then casually says, “Ja-Jeedie, turn around. Come back.”

I must face him. Gods no, how is this possible?

Gods, no! Of all the souls who might be interlinked with mine, why did two of them have to be Ja-Alixxe, and the man who first raped me? My cousin’s words come back to me, unbidden: “He won some trading operation in a card game, somewhere out on the Western Spiral. By taking franchise deals, he let others do the work, and business boomed. I heard he runs a whole system like a king.”

“Back on your feet, Ja-Jeedie,” Gorack orders.

He never stripped me entirely during the rape. Today I must stand for the first time fully naked before Gorack, and even more completely in his power than I was before.

“When I first saw you, I wondered if Salarin discovered somehow that I’d dropped my old bounty hunter name. But it seems for you like an unlucky co-incidence – you look too surprised for this to be a set up. I understand, now. Salarin sent you, thinking I’d fall for the switch, not knowing we’d already met,” says Gorack. “Everyone – this is Ja-Jeedie, Ja-Alixxe’s cousin. Last time we met,” he says and then turns to me, “she thought herself better than me, so I raped her to teach her a lesson, and I took her virginity. I recall, she scratched my face, then insisted that the rape would be the last pleasure I’d ever get from her. It seems you are fated to give me pleasure after all, doesn’t it Ja-Jeedie?”

“I hate you,” I tell him in a surly voice.

“Ja-Jeedie,” he says, “You are an implanted slave. You will address me as ‘Master’ every time you reply to me. Do you understand?”

I’d rather demean myself before anyone than before him, even Salarin, but orders are orders. I must swallow my pride.

“Yes, Master.”

“I want you to tell us exactly what you’re thinking, Ja-Jeedie. Now you’ve discovered you’ve walked into my power, and nothing you can do will stop me fucking you, over and over, in every hole you’ve got.”

“I’m wishing I was dead, Master. I’m thinking about all those times since we last met that I’ve been in danger, but I wasn’t lucky enough to be killed, and wishing just one shot had struck home.”

“What do you think of me, Ja-Jeedie? The man who took your virginity?”

“I think you’re the most pathetic piece of filth that ever existed, Master.”

Edzie is shaking her head, urging some attempt at polite diplomacy.

“Interesting. You say that I’m pathetic, and yet you’re the one who ended up as my sex slave. You’re the one who is standing there naked, with all your secrets on show. Doesn’t that make you feel even more pathetic than I am?”

“Yes, Master,” I have to agree. What do the gods have against me? Of the trillions of souls out there across the galaxy, why did they have to fate me to return to Gorack?

At least now I can fervently hope that Salarin fails to reach an agreement with Gorack. If Salarin gives the code word, nothing would give me great pleasure to break Gorack limb from limb. But I’m unlikely to receive the signal quickly. I don’t even know what time of day it is on the Slaver world. With a broken heart I must face the inevitable. Before I can proceed, I’m going to have to suffer his hands on me again.

“So, negotiator…” Gorack says to Edzie. “You’ve been sent with the wrong girl. Salarin promised me Ja-Alixxe. I wanted her, and only her, because Ja-Alixxe did this to me you see, ruined my face and my lungs. But I’ll have Ja-Jeedie while I wait for her cousin. Where does that leave you, negotiator?”

“It makes our position more difficult,” admits Edzie.

“I’d go further than ‘difficult’,” says Gorack. “I’d say you’ve been sold down the river. Perhaps you’re wondering what will happen next. You know, I keep a brothel of sex slaves here for my guards? You, Edzie, are sufficiently adequate to be sent there. That will be your difficult position. As for Ja-Jeedie… My prize slaves I use myself, but I also always share them around my senior staff. Generosity is the secret of leadership, isn’t it? Ja-Jeedie, greet all the men who will be fucking you.”

The sneering laughter returns. I now understand the way some of the crowd having been eying me up. I’d assumed I’d be solely Gorack’s after our history together, but since I arrived, the crowd have actually been watching the show and anticipating getting their turn. Oh, great.

“Say hello to your future lovers,” Gorack insists.

“Hello, Masters,” I say in a low voice.

“The lesser one – take her away, to the brothel,” says Gorack with a dismissive wave.

Two of the guards seize Edzie by her upper arms, and pull her back.

“The negotiations?” says Edzie in rising panic as she’s led away.

“A slave woman doesn’t negotiate when she’s on her back,” calls Gorack to Edzie’s retreating form. “Begging is all that’s in store for you.”

With those, Edzie’s role in my life story probably ends. Gorack can turn his attention solely on me.

“My mask isn’t the only change since we last met, Ja-Jeedie,” Gorack informs me. “I had some biotech augmentation to my cock. I can stay hard for hours without becoming uncomfortable and needing to orgasm. During the daytime I hold audience here, and I usually stay stiff inside a girl the whole time. Isn’t that right, Trindii?”

He rams his hips forward, and the girl gives a groan of misery.

“Trindii has spent a lot of days there on her knees. But today is her lucky one. Seeing how we’ve all enjoyed this delightful surprise reunion, let’s have a little reorganization, and then we’ll let Ja-Jeedie complete her mission. It’s almost morning on the Slaver’s world. Let’s give the great Chief Salarin his reply.”

28 - Delegation

“Urghh, urghh, urghh, urghh,” I moan, rhythmically and unending.

“Patch a transmission through to Aghara-Penthay,” orders Gorack loudly from behind, his voice reverberating through me. “I want to speak to Salarin.”

While the relentless hammering continues, he says only to me, “Seeing your old lover gonna make you homesick, huh?”

I couldn’t reply if I wanted to, so I stare ahead, i.e. straight down at the tiles on the floor. These tiles are little more than a foot distance in front of my face, for, on all fours, I’m now kneeling in the pillory which recently trapped Trindii. I’d like to give some smartass answer and win back a little self-respect, but it’s hard for a woman to sound strong when she’s being pounded with cock in front of a sizeable crowd.

The pillory holds my torso horizontal, so my milk-laden breasts hang straight downwards. Gorack has already proven he likes reaching underneath me to squeeze and pull at them. My rump is thrust out towards him and is equally defenseless. Mercifully, he’s currently in my pussy and not my ass, but I can do nothing to prevent him if he does choose to switch holes. My useless wrists are trapped level with my ears. My neck and arms are locked into the same hinged wooden board. The planking means I can’t see behind me, and that makes me feel very vulnerable, for unless I hear an audible warning, each touch to my body comes as a fresh surprise.

“Aghara-Penthay, Lord Yarook,” someone informs us.

I frown at the floor as I hear that stupid name. Honestly: ‘Lord Yarook’. What delusions of grandeur. While the connection is patched through, Gorack, as I’m determined to think of him, slides his pelvis forward slowly, penetrating deeper and deeper into me, and I tense, as my body instinctively attempts to expel the invader.

“Mmm, feel me filling you,” he says softly.

In spite of my shaming, from my lowly place in the pillory still I look up as the message comes through. It’s a wonder of technology that any communications are possible across the vastness of interstellar space. The image from Aghara-Penthay appears before the throne hovering in midair, projected in three dimensions in a spectral green shade. Meanwhile, Gorack resumes the pace of his thrusts.

It's him - Salarin. Once again, the faction leader must see me stripped of all dignity.

“Lord Yarook,” Salarin says. His tone is neutral – neither respect nor disrespect.

“Urghh, urghh, urghh, urghh,” I moan.

“Slaver,” says Gorack, using the formal address for a faction leader. “Thank you for your presents,” says Gorack, “I’m particularly pleased with this one.” He slows and partially withdraws from me again, then rams forward so suddenly and so hard that I cry out, even though I’m trying to remain impassive. “But your trick failed. You didn’t know that Ja-Jeedie, Ja-Alixxe and I are all old friends, huh? But I’m happy to fill the Runner’s cousin with cock, while I wait to be sent the real bounty hunter.”

Salarin frowns, but quickly disguises his disappointment.

“Ja-Alixxe aside, I take it, then, you’re not interested in the broader proposals presented by my delegation?”

“Ha! All your delegation got as far as presenting was her ass. She’s probably getting gang banged in the guardhouse as we speak.”

“The negotiations were a waste of our time then? Even though Aghara-Penthay could crush you easily?” says Salarin calmly. “A couple of our pirate warships would be more than enough to conquer your tin pot little kingdom.”

“But you won’t,” says Gorack. “Bomb Dodayosk, and you’ll take out the factory forever. And you know the score. Ever since the fiasco with Melena, your hold on power has become more and more tenuous. The recent raid for the cult leader made things worse. No. You Slavers need me onside, for now. So, let’s get real. What you’ll do is start kissing my ass. My offer is that you send me the real Ja-Alixxe, and also find me the pirate, Alexa Goshenk. Now there was a fine piece. And general stock slaves are to be supplied yet again at double the current number per shipment of chips. And while you’re arrange all that, I’ll relax and drill this one.”

Without warning there is an even more savage thrust into my core, and I cry out louder.

“I will discuss it with the other faction leaders,” says Salarin, “and return to you with a verdict.”

“Take your time. I’m happy to fuck your lookalike while I wait.”

In the midst of the rape, Gorack traces his fingers down my bare spine, and I flinch.

“Enjoy the rain, Ajeedie,” says Salarin’s image to me, “it’s your future,” and I go rigid in the pillory as his image vanishes with a flicker.

Enjoy the rain – the code phrase I expected. Eliminate him. (Argh, stop thrusting into me like that). Finally some good news. Lord Gorack of loser-world will probably want me in his bed tonight, and once we have privacy, I’ll take my revenge and waste him. Painfully. If the guards don’t catch me, I’ll try to get out of the palace to Secur, but I don’t really care what happens to me afterwards, just as long as I get to murder Gorack in retribution for raping me all those years ago. Salarin will deal with Gorack’s successor, who will be humble after witnessing predecessor’s lesson about the reach of Aghara-Penthay.

Apart from the sounds I’m making, no one in the audience space speaks for the next minute, which is lucky, because my thoughts are in overdrive, evaluating infinite possibilities. I’m maybe only hours from an end to my misery. The Gods have mercy.

But until that time, I’ll serve as a sex slave. The rain drums down, and Gorack humps me viciously as wait helplessly presented in the pillory. He grunts with his lust for me. I groan with suffering. I try to distract myself by plotting the worst way I can kill him, but it’s hard to think of anything but the cock stuffing my walls.

“What’s next?” Gorack asks casually, stopping mid-thrust. That’s my question, too.

“The Legate from The Republic, Lord Yarook,” says the alien with the fronds. “He is waiting in your ante-room.”

“Let him in here, Osk,” says Gorack. “Let’s find out what he wants.”

Slavery is illegal in The Republic. If we were in Republic space, this man would represent my emancipation. But Dodayosk is far from the civilized hub of the galaxy. He’ll just be another male in the lines of those who have seen me naked and humiliated. What’s a Republic official doing all the way out here though? I look up, as he enters the audience space. I see a broad shouldered, bearded man, by the galactic reckoning in his mid-forties in years. He wears expensive robes, and looks well groomed, presenting as a man of means.

“Lord Yarook,” he says in a deep voice. “I am Legate Stobbo, Republic Legate to this sector.”

His eyes take in the view of me, and I see disapproval for my degraded state, but I’m a naked woman, and he must look up and down my body anyway.

“Welcome, Legate Stobbo,” says Gorack, resting back shamelessly with his cock motionless inside me. “You’re a long way from home. What brings you to Dodayosk?”

“I am here to negotiate a deal, Lord Yarook,” says Stobbo.

“I thought it was Republic policy never to deal with slave owners,” replies Gorack. He’s not the only one to be puzzled. “Who do you want so desperately?” Through the intimate connection between us I feel my captor’s penis pulse as he thinks, and then he says, “You want to buy implant chips?”

“Not just the chips,” says Stobbo, and as I look up pleading silently, his eyes move over me again. “We want to pay you to shut down the production of implants. The Republic will, in essence, pay you to do nothing.”

“Aghara-Penthay pays me very well,” says Gorack. “I’m not sure you can offer me enough.”

“Just name your price,” says Legate Stobbo.

“Well, well, well” Gorack says with a victorious laugh. “Name my price? Even the Republic has come to bow before Lord Yarook. You have to let me think about this one for a moment.”

While he does that, Gorack begins to rut into me again. Stobbo watches sickened, but he can’t keep from looking at me there’s also a hungry jealousy. I wish I could bear the fucking stoically, but it feels like he’s stretching my inner walls, and it’s impossible not to react. Oh, I’m going to kill him for this public humiliation.

“Urghh, urghh, urghh, urghh,” I moan.

“I see you like Ja-Jeedie, here,” Gorack states from behind me. “She’s not for sale, but step up and enjoy anyway. She’s a great multitasker, and I can have her suck you off while I fuck her. She won’t bite.”

“Not today,” says Stobbo. “But thank you.”

I stare down at the floor, not wanting to witness anyone’s pleasure at my degradation. Gorack thrusts deeper, and I moan louder.

“I have more credits than I’ll ever need,” Gorack eventually says. “I live in luxury. I have first rate cunt. I don’t want to free the universe’s women – quite the opposite. What can you offer me?”

“Everyone wants something,” says Stobbo with distaste. “Republic protection? An amnesty? What’s your price?”

Gorack pauses to think again, but soon resumes poling me again, back and forward, back and forward. I stiffen instinctively and moan in distress with each thrust. He laughs. I feel his cock swelling. Something is arousing him.

“Tell you what, Legate Stobbo,” he says smugly. “You’re saying you want me to shut down production, and lose all that potential tail. There’s only one thing I’ll do that for – a snatch that’s even better than anything from Aghara-Penthay. Bring me Melena de Santo, and five million credits. Then you’ll have a deal.”

There’s a gasp from the room and a ripple of noise from the crowd. Even I look up with surprise. Stobbo looks aghast.

“You’re being ridiculous,” he says. “Colonel De Santo escaped from The Rape Run three years ago? She’s a free citizen of The Republic, under our protection. The Republic would never deliver a free citizen into slavery, into the hands of someone like you.”

Gorack is getting faster. He’s made up his mind, and now he’s just enjoying himself.

“Urghh, urghh, urghh, urghh,” I moan.

“Bring me Melena,” he repeats. “Not a bad price for her, after she’s been so heavily soiled, no?”

“She’s not a slave,” retorts Stobbo. “We’re done here. The Republic is a fair and free society.”

The legate is turning to leave, but Gorack freezes him in his tracks.

“If you want to keep your conscience clear, why don’t you just ask her?” he mocks. “Melena was always sickeningly noble. One act of self-sacrifice, to save so many women from implantation? I bet she’ll agree. In fact, she’ll be cumming in her pants with eagerness to debase herself before me.”

“I’m leaving,” says Stobbo. “Good day, Lord Yarook.”

“Don’t take too long deciding though,” Gorack calls after his back. “Imagine the counter-offer Aghara-Penthay are going to come up with, once they hear about this… The price will go up soon.”

He rams so deep into me that it feels like he’s probing my abdomen. I’m stretched around his girth. I feel like I’m going to split. I cry out. But Gorack was right. Imagine what Aghara-Penthay would do with this news.

Perhaps that’s why something changes in me. I suddenly slump in the frame holding me, although my body still lurches like a ragdoll with the unending thrusts. I can feel my dangling breasts shaking in rhythm to the pounding I’m receiving. Gods damn them all! I was going to kill Gorack right away, but I can’t. Not yet. Not even if I wanted that more than anything in the universe. The compulsion from my implant overrides everything.

Melena de Santo. Aghara-Penthay’s most wanted woman. Three years ago, she escaped the Rape Run with Ja-Alixxe, and for once it was the Slavers who were delivered a public humiliation. Ja-Alixxe was recaptured, as everyone knows, but Melena has been heavily guarded by the Republic ever since.

What would it mean for the Slavers if there was the potential of recovering Melena? If Melena does turn out to be cursed with such dumb nobility that she’ll submit to Gorack’s cock, and I can take her back to Aghara-Penthay where she’ll take far more cock, the whole galaxy would respect Aghara-Penthay. But who would reap the benefit? Salarin? Charax? If Charax’s personal slave was responsible for delivering Melena, would that earn his freedom? Or would Salarin take the credit? For now, the council only believe I’m Salarin’s slave.

I need time to think, but I can’t when I’m being fucked so hard. All I’m sure of is that I must leave Gorack alive at least until we hear Melena’s decision. And that means while we wait, I’ll be getting a lot more familiar with Gorack’s penis.

While I reach that conclusion, this foul beast of a man climaxes inside me for the second time. The second time, but no doubt not the last.

29 - Captivity

The next few days are not pleasant for me. I have deposed the one called Trindii as Gorack’s favorite, so every day is spent in her place in the pillory, moaning over and over as I’m publicly humiliated in front of the daily audience. My nights are spent in his bed.

Gorack is the kind of weak man who needs the validation of others to secure his self-esteem. He cannot just have me in private. His entourage must bear witness to my defeat, so he might bask in their admiration.

Occasionally, he addresses Dodayosk on the planet’s holo-stream, and his fragile ego means next time this occurs, I am forced to appear, on my knees, full-frontal with my thighs open, next to his throne. My head is pulled back painfully by my hair, to make certain everyone has the chance to admire his trophy’s beautiful face.

Aghara-Penthay has a mighty fleet, but they cannot threaten us, he tells the whole world. Look at the prizes they send to placate Lord Yarook (A sharp tug on my hair makes me wince). The implant chips from Dodayosk mean everything to Salarin, we are reminded. The manufacturing plant – a short walk from the Royal Palace – is armed with atomics, and Lord Yarook can fire them at a touch. The Slavers will never risk an attack.

After the broadcast, he is pleased with himself. So, using his biotech-enhanced penis to sustain an erection, that night he violates me for hours.

I’ve been raped enough times by enough men that enduring him shouldn’t make much difference, but Gorack wants more from me than sex. He wants to violate my mind, so he questions me endlessly about events between our parting on that transport vessel, and the intervening years to my arrival on Aghara-Penthay. He wants to know me, really know me, so he might devise the worst ways to assert his victory over me.

Unfortunately, inside my head is precisely where I don’t want him to be. So I give as little of the truth as is safe. I joined the Djenerion, hiding my shameful secret. I joined the Okhoron, and became part of Tisya’s bodyguard. And there, I temporarily diverge from honesty. I merely say that I was captured along with Tisya’s other escorts, chosen by Salarin owing to my similarity to Ja-Alixxe. Then back to the truth – I was altered to resemble my cousin, and then substituted on the mission to Dodayosk.

That much information should have been enough to keep me safe until it was time to act upon a verdict from the Republic, if it wasn’t for another unfortunate coincidence. By night two, I was unable to conceal my restlessness any longer, or the aching need for my heavy breasts to be drained, and Gorack learned fully of all the ways in which was essential for me to have female sexual companions.

He teased me at first, for it entertained Gorack to deny me the essential fulfilment as a means of torture. But as I started losing my mind with arousal, he must have seen that something needed to be done before I passed too far beyond recovery.

Hence, my current situation. It is again the time of audience, and Gorack has had all the female slaves in the household lined up. While it downpours outside, and while I’m once again in the hated pillory, they are made to parade back and forth in front of me, naked, in a perverse beauty contest, so I might choose a companion. It pleases men to watch women with women, so much of the household have gathered, and there is much encouragement, whoever the girl’s owner might be. The free citizens of the palace each anticipate watching my intimacies with their slave.

Most of the women show little emotion as they present themselves. For a sex slave, it matters little who the next companion might be. A few, perhaps those who also have some preference for females, look at me more directly, wearing expressions of speculation. Similar numbers that perhaps abhor a woman’s touch try to shrink into themselves.

Edzie appears with bruises on her face and avoids eye contact, desperately ashamed of the state she’s in. Shortly after Edzie comes the turn of Gorack’s former favorite, the dark-skinned woman named Trindii. She looks sympathetic towards me, probably remembering what I’m enduring on a nightly basis, on her behalf.

The one I eventually choose has positioned herself near the end of the parade, probably deliberately, in the hope I’d make my decision before she needed to even appear. She must have seen me in the planet-wide broadcast and had time to prepare her reaction. Like the others she walks towards me and then away, nude, arms at her sides, so front and back might be inspected. She doesn’t look at me, and tries to stare at the floor.

I stiffen with shock, and Gorack, whose penis is deep in my vagina, feels it.

“Her?” he says. “That one is reasonable, but hardly one of the prettiest we have… She’s nothing but one of the guardroom whores.”

It’s impossible – she shouldn’t even be alive, let alone here, but I’d recognize Orteza anywhere. That slight green tint to her skin. The rounded body. Her large eyes, and that sensual mouth.

“Perhaps,” I shrug, trying to cover my slip. “Let’s see the rest please, Master.”

Why must the Gods taunt me with the demons of my past? First Ja-Alixxe, then Gorack, and now her?

And what does her presence mean for me? Orteza wears the slave mark of an implanted female, pale in color for her, to stand out, like the marks Aghara-Penthay give all dark-skinned women. She must have been processed, but surely the Slavers found out who she was, and then she shouldn’t have been permitted to live. Orteza must know full well that I shouldn’t have escaped judgement either. The transmission showing the fate of my poor dismembered team was broadcast to the whole galaxy. Will her implant compel her to warn her masters here, or even the Slavers?

I make a show of examining the remaining candidates, but I have only one choice. I am forced by the compulsion to serve my true masters, just as she is forced to serve hers. It must be her. I need to understand whether there’s a risk to me.

“So… Who-do-you-want-to-fuck?” Gorack asks, in time with thrusts into my body.

“Her, Master,” I moan, and indicate Orteza.

“She does not please me,” complains Gorack. “If you want her, I warn you I’ll have to find a way to make your encounters more entertaining.”

My heart sinks, but all the same, it has to be her.

“Master can do as he wishes,” I say softly, “but Master asked for my truthful choice, and it is her.”

“Step forward,” Gorack orders Orteza, so he can get a better look, and then a succession of further commands follow. “Stand before the throne. Turn your back. Touch your toes. Now kneel before me. No, knees apart.”

Orteza obeys, presenting us with a series of views. Some are obscene, some are not.

“You really want her?” Gorack asks. “The guards tell me she pukes every time she’s fucked in the mouth – a phobia of penetration. But perhaps she’s better with other women.”

“She is my type,” I lie, and hope Gorack knows little enough of female desires to believe me. Orteza watches me warily.

“These sluts from the guardroom are really too heavily used,” Gorack says with disapproval. “But I suppose if you must, I did say you could choose. I’m not going to fuck her myself, and risking her diseases, though.”

“Thank you, Master,” I say softly. Orteza looks relieved at this extra bit of news.

“Remind me of your name, slut,” Gorack demands of Orteza.

“Ortiera, Master,” lies Orteza, staring at me in a dare to contradict. Interesting. Has she been ordered to use a new name? It’s not easy for an implanted female to be dishonest.

“Osk,” calls Gorack, and the willowy blue alien I met on my first arrival steps forwards.

“Lord Yarook,” he acknowledges with oily deference.

“At nights, from now on Ortiera is to sleep in my chambers,” he says in a tone of displeasure. “Put a bedroll on the floor suitable for a slave. Once I am finished with Ja-Jeedie, Ja-Jeedie may sate her needs using this girl.”

“As you wish,” says Osk, but Gorack is already continuing.

“A Lord does not change his mind, but Ja-Jeedie’s choice does not please me, and she will suffer for it. Thus, Ortiera – my will is that you will desire Ja-Jeedie, as she seems to desire you, but you will also feel only contempt for her. I want it to arouse you to hurt her, to humiliate her, to restrain her. You will make her lick you out, every single night. And only once you have attained your own climax from abusing her, and she is forced to beg, is Ja-Jeedie permitted her own necessary release.”

“Master,” Orteza nods. Her expression remains neutral. I wonder if, without the compulsion of the implant, it would have given her pleasure to torment me. Orteza never liked me. And then she slammed that door, leaving me to the swarm. A choice which apparently saved her life. If one of us deserves to receive cruelty, it is her, not me. Damn the Gods.

“You - Ortiera, and the other slaves are dismissed now,” Gorack says, raising his voice. “Go back to pleasing your masters. Osk, what is next on the order of business?”

The remainder of the day passes just as slowly as you might imagine, for one who is spending it displayed naked in a pillory. Afterwards, Gorack eats an evening meal with his senior team – a table gathering totaling twenty-two souls. Scantily dressed slave women from the kitchens serve the food. I am no gourmet, but I know enough to be sure what I’m seeing laid out is fare only available to a wealthy man.

As a sex slave, I am neither permitted a place at the table, nor clothing. The only food I am given comes from Gorack’s hand. To receive, it I must beg on my hands and knees, picking morsels from his fingers using only my lips, as though I’m some form of pet animal. For now, I tolerate debasing myself, letting them all believe he has tamed me. I need to keep my energy up. But I swear to myself that each humiliation represents another of his bones I shall break when my time comes.

The meal drags on interminably. I am much mocked. At one point I crawl around with a woman riding on my back, slapping my rump to make me go faster. A sycophant praises Gorack – he’s never seen such a beautiful female as me, he says. He observes how powerful Gorack must be to acquire a slave like me, before sadly reflecting how much he’d like to try someone like me, just once.

“Use her,” Gorack says generously. “There’s a mat in the corner. Every man deserves to live his dream.”

So while the guests are eating their sweet course, I spend the time on my back at the edge of the room being raped. The man’s weight bears down on me. His companions call out lewd advice. He’s heavy, and I’d struggle to escape from under him, even if I was able to resist. His odor is unpleasant, and it lingers, clinging to me long after he’s finished.

When he returns to the table, I push myself up and wipe between my legs with a dirty cloth rag. And I reflect that this is only the beginning of my night of misery.

30 - Orteza

“Arouse her!” Gorack orders Orteza, and as my torment begins, I reflect on the paths that have brought us here.

Last year I was a member of the Okhoron, Tisya’s elite bodyguards. The path of my fate seemed clearly mapped back then – service to The Sect until my accelerated physical and mental processes caught up with me, and then retirement to quiet gardens on the Djenerix homeworld. Of course, throughout my life I was aware of Aghara-Penthay, and The Rape Run. Any woman in the free universe from a planet connected to the rest of the galaxy knows and fears The Slavers. We knew that Tisya was a particular target, so we had to be vigilant to Slaver attacks, and be ready to defend her at the cost of our lives, and hers, if necessary.

But I never really believed I’d become a Slaver captive. I never believed I’d become an implanted slave.

As for Orteza, she was nothing to me until we were united for the mission to Aghara-Penthay. She wasn’t Okhoron, and there are many junior priestesses and lay-women serving the Sect. She looked like a dark-skinned human, although one with a faint emerald caste to her skin. Her file said she was Skix, an alien race so similar to humans that they’re capable of breeding with human males. Her file said she was a lesbian, although implantation might have altered that, as happened with my own sexuality. Her file said high intelligence, leading to overconfidence and issues with authority. Implantation will have changed that, too.

There was friction between Orteza and I from the start, long before she slammed that door in my face, condemning me to capture by the swarm. My feelings towards her back then were mostly irritation. I would never in my wildest speculations considered Orteza as a future sexual partner. I would never have imagined Orteza would be someone for whom I’d be lying on my back, limbs stretched up and down, naked and restrained, as her plaything. But so the universe plays out its games.

For her first move, she rubs her oiled hands over my breasts, fingers grazing back and forth across my nipples so they rapidly stiffen. Like most sex slaves, she understands the female body and she’ll have the knowledge to turn me on whether I wish it or not. And Orteza may not be the most desirable woman in the galaxy – she is a little short, and her body lacks tone, but she is a woman, and her figure is lush and ripe, and her large eyes, with a slight upwards slant at the tips, make her seem even more feminine.

I want to touch her, but I’m strapped into cuffs which hold my wrists and ankles closely together, and these in turn are fastened tightly to the head and foot of Gorack’s luxurious bed. Thus barely able to move, I’m ruler-straight, out on my back with my limbs extended, and my arms around my ears. Once they’d secured me helpless in this fashion, Gorack had Orteza straddle me. At the command “Arouse her!”, she began rubbing me with the scented oil.

Her slick hands glide easily over me. Her touch is soft, her flesh warm. Back and forth, back and forth, shifting the heavy masses of my breasts, concentrating only on my nipples until the rest of my body reverberates with the tingling need.

“Please,” I beg her. “Please, Ort… Ortiera, that’s enough on my chest, just help me cum.”

Gorack said she had to tease me until I begged her. I figure the endgame is going to inevitable, so there’s little point hanging on to any pride. The sooner I can bring this to a conclusion, the better.

Orteza looms over me.

“Think I’ll let it be that easy?” she says in a husky voice. “When I’ve wanted to do this since I first saw you, standing in the audience chamber?” We both know that’s not where we met, but there’s no time to consider her slight emphasis on ‘audience chamber’ proving it a message just for me. Drawing back her arm, Orteza slaps the back of her hand, right to left, across my defenseless breasts, with all the force she can muster.

Engorged with milk, my chest is hypersensitive, and the blow is stunning to me. For a second, it’s as though I’m falling back into the mattress, about to pass out.

“Oh, you fucking bitch!” I groan softly, senses reeling.

“What did you call me?” gloats Orteza drawing back other hand.

A second blow, from the opposite side, rakes left to right across me. I’m tensing in my bonds in anticipation before she hits, but there’s nothing I can do to protect myself.

“I’ve met women like you before,” she sneers. “Think you’re better than the rest of us, just because you’re beautiful.”

“No, wait!” I stammer, but she strikes me from right to left again, with equal force, and this time the blow is so intense it sends me absent for a moment.

“…permanent damage,” Gorack is saying when awareness returns. “It would cost a fortune to replace a slave of that quality.”

“I know what I’m doing, Master,” Orteza says a little petulantly. “I worked at a dominatrix before I was enslaved. I know how to push just hard enough. Look.” Once more she switches sides. Once again the pain is hard enough for a moment’s blackout.

“…like seeing her humiliated, don’t get me wrong, but don’t get carried away. You’re here to perform a service,” Gorack continues. “She has to be milked, and brought to climax every day by a female, or she starts losing her mind. Fail me in that that duty, and there are plenty of other guard room girls who would prefer to sleep in here. Maybe one of…”

Another brutal strike means I don’t hear the end. Her constant changing sides means I have less opportunity to build up tolerance to the pain.

Logically, I know Orteza isn’t going to properly harm me. This is nothing more than teasing. And yet being tied spreadeagled on my back, I start to feel terrified of her. Perhaps it’s because my breasts are already so sore, she might not realize how much the beating hurts me.

“Please, Ortiera,” I beg again, with as much humility as I can muster.

“Better,” she says. “This time, I believe you mean it. And here’s your reward.”

Orteza straddles my face, and sinks her pelvis down on to me, looking down my body in much the same way Ja-Alixxe did in our first sexual encounter. If it wasn’t for Orteza’s dark skin and less-athletic form, it could feel as though my fate was trapped in a loop.

She’s not that heavy, but it’s uncomfortable all the same, with her mass pushing my extended arms even harder into my ears, and it’s difficult to breathe when I’m surrounded in all directions by flesh. Her pussy presses over my mouth, and my nose is buried in the cleft of her buttocks. She’s warm against me. When I get the chance to inhale, I’m breathing in overpowering odor of sex and excrement. For the first time ever, I hear Orteza moan, and it’s the wanton sound of a woman in heat.

“My slave,” Orteza crows as she leans forward and begins to caress my clitoris. “At last. Well, use your slave tongue to please me, then. Once I’ve had my climax, I might permit your own release.”

“Yes, stick your tongue right in her snatch, Ja-Jeedie,” Gorack, who is probably feeling ignored, butts in. Of course I obey, stretching my tongue as far as I can to probe inside Orteza’s core, and I taste her. She groans, not from suffering, but from pleasure. “That’s it,” Gorack continues. “Keep it inside as long as you can. Both of you stay there, you’re keeping that tongue there until Ortiera has cum over your face.”

I circle my tongue deep inside her vagina. Orteza is already very wet. Perhaps she desired me all along. Perhaps she really was a dominatrix, and degrading me like this would be arousing to her, even without Gorack’s command.

Her juices do not taste pleasant to me, as those of some women do. I’m familiar enough with the taste of sperm to tell she’s had sex recently, and is still unclean. Gorack’s opinions come back to me. He called her a heavily used guardroom whore, full of disease. She might be a dirty whore, but between the two of us, she’s come out on top all the same.

Orteza will be enjoying her moment of victory over me. I wish I could retaliate in some way, but instead I circle my tongue against the soft flesh her insides, stimulating her so much Orteza can’t keep still, and she gyrates against me.

Why are the Gods so cruel? Why her, of all people? And why him? I’d have killed this asshole Gorack and left for that happy future already, if it wasn’t for Melena. The Colonel better be worth all this.

“How the mighty have fallen,” I hear Gorack saying from somewhere nearby my head. “You can imagine how surprised I was when Ja-Jeedie arrived here, slave-marked, and ready to spread her legs for Aghara-Penthay, but I was even more surprised to see she still had that way of looking down her nose at me. When she’s nothing now but an implanted piece of ass. What do you think of that, Ortiera?”

Orteza moans, by way of an answer. She’s even wetter now, and the taste of her overwhelms my senses. They talk about the heat of arousal, and literally with her, in the jungles of Dodayosk the juices are much warmer than when I first tongued her.

“What do you think of that?” Gorack repeats.

“I think she looks down her nose at everybody,” Orteza answers, “unless someone’s sitting on it.”

I think she must be close to orgasm, but then, she lifts her hips just above me. Orteza doesn’t want this to end too quickly. Temporarily, I can’t reach her, but she continues her ministrations to my core. And Gods help me, this woman knows how to turn a girl on. Please, Orteza, stop. Please, Orteza, don’t stop. I squirm in my bonds to reduce the contact between us, but even though I have my legs together I can do little to evade her teasing fingers. Just above me hovers Orteza’s genitals. I crane my head up as far as I can, seeking her warmth, her smell, and I just manage to brush the lips of her vulva with my nose before she raises herself further out of reach.

“I know, little slave girl,” Orteza tells me in a seductive throaty whisper. “Just think of all the things you’d be doing to me now, if I was the one chained up.”

“Yes, imagine that, Ja-Jeedie…” Gorack chips in. “Fantasize. Fantasize about hurting her.”

It’s too much. The images, and that unbearably delightful touch. I moan. I must moan. They’re only messing with me, but I’m must still act as though implanted, and imagine it anyway. I picture her. Orteza restrained. Whipping Orteza. Biting Orteza. Goading Orteza. Electrocuting Orteza. Making Orteza cry. Groping Orteza.

“Mmm, have mercy, Ja-Jeedie,” Orteza says to me, “That’s how I’d beg you”. Her touch has abruptly gone from my core, and I lift my hips automatically, chasing it’s return. She settles back down on me, bodyweight pressing hard against the bridge of my nose. I can slip my tongue into her vulva again, so I do.

Nobody speaks for several minutes, then. The only sounds are the noisy, wanton moans of Orteza’s mounting sexual pleasure. I can’t see Gorack, as Orteza’s fulcrum is squashed onto my face. The soiled taste of her wetness fills my mouth. I can smell her shit. And yet, I must continue to stimulate her. Keep my tongue inside as long as I can, he said. I’m supposed to have some element of free will, but I can no more resist that urge as I could resist the vacuum in space.

When she climaxes, she does it with a release of fluid which inundates me. Orteza’s thighs tense when she cums, and she groans whorishly. It must be a very pleasurable orgasm for her, for it’s too intense for her to remain upright, and she slumps forward, supporting herself by leaning her hands on my hips. Through the pressure still there on my face, I feel her torso heaving as she gasps with the physical effort. My tongue, still deep within her, is soaked, and I have to swallow back some of her secretions.

“A squirter,” Gorack observes clinically. “Well, squirter, finish Ja-Jeedie off.”

I’m so aroused it only takes a few tender strokes before my own climax follows hers. My orgasm is too intense to hold myself back and I cry out, arched and rigid in my bonds. It’s been a couple of days since my last release, and on this occasion, I too am “a squirter”.

Orteza dismounts quickly when it’s over, leaving me gasping on the bed, covered in sweat.

“Master, if I may be excused?”

“You are only half-finished. Now suck her dry, slave.”

“Master?” Orteza queries.

“Straddle her, and suck her titties dry. Do it now. I want to watch the look on Ja-Jeedie’s face as she’s milked like she’s some brood mare.”

Orteza remounts, but must look uncertain.

“You’re squeamish about this, of all things?” Gorack frowns. “Fine. I compel you to love the taste of her milk, even more than you hate her as a woman. Is that enough?”

It must be sufficient, for her head goes down on me instantly. Orteza bites my nipple once, just to remind me she’s in charge, but then her lips close gently on me, and there’s the merciful release of the suction on my aching breast.

She goes at a pace, emptying one breast and then the other. The activity doesn’t feel sexual. It’s more like enduring an embarrassing medical procedure. Wrists and ankles stretched in my bonds, I can only stare up at the ceiling of his bedchamber and wait for the process to be complete.

“That’s right, mighty Ja-Jeedie,” Gorack gloats. “I see your face. Think about how low you’ve become. Think about your wet pussy, and how I might decide to fuck your hole afterwards.”

I think about how much I’d like to kill him. Slowly.

“I’m finished,” Orteza says abruptly, hopping off the bed and making quicky for the door.

“You’re sleeping here, on the slave mat with Ja-Jeedie,” Gorack says firmly.

“Of course, Master,” demurs, Orteza, “but even slaves need the bathroom. I’ll be right back.”

So that was that. Other than my forced arousal, there was little pleasure in my session with Orteza. And yet something about it must have turned Gorack on, for he resecures my ankles – wide apart this time - takes his place between my defenseless thighs, mounts the bed, and fucks me long and hard.

“I’ll have your cousin here soon,” he tells me during our rutting, “and I’ll do this to her. Ja-Alixxe also has a debt to pay me.”

At some point during my rape Orteza must have returned to the room, for when Gorack finishes, she’s there, silently watching us from the slave mat at the foot of the bed.

I’ve been exhausted by my brutal day, but sleep doesn’t come easily. I’m not permitted to rest on the bed. Rather, I’m secured in my third position of the evening. Gorack has two sets of “X” shaped shackles – the chains only six inches in length, with a bracelet on each branch. Orteza and I are secured together in these – ankles to ankles, wrists to wrists. Then we’re left to spend the night on a hard mat, facing each other, our bonds keeping us so close our bodies must touch. I’m acutely aware of her presence, her warmth, her breath.

Gorack orders us not to speak before taking his more comfortable place, so we don’t, but until fatigue finally allows us release, we have little else to do but stare into each other’s eyes. The raised eyebrows over Orteza’s large liquid eyes convey a hundred unspoken questions, as I’m sure do mine, but we are implanted slaves, so the rest of the night is spent unanswered.

31 – Grind

I’m woken by the sound of a woman moaning. I try to move, and remember I went to sleep in shackles. Inches away from me, Orteza is having a nightmare. It’s interesting that Gorack’s command to silence releases during sleep. With a jingle of chains I reach up and squeeze her arm, tying to wake her without disturbing our brutal overlord, but it’s too late.

“Slaves?” he says, irritated, and our day begins.

Gorack holds audience as usual during the day, and again I’m displayed for the occasion on my hands and knees, back in that hateful pillory. It would be bad enough that I’m in the pillory while aching all over from a night on the hard mat, but this time a spreader bar is added between my knees – a spreader bar which makes me feel even more vulnerable, and only makes the unending stimulation from Gorack’s cock worse. Any attempt to avoid moaning and grunting in response to each movement he makes in me is impossible, and a day of very public sexual humiliation proceeds.

Again, that night I’m tormented to orgasm by Orteza, again she drains my breasts, and again she is permitted a bathroom break before the two of us are secured together on the floor. On it goes. I’m raped all day, tormented in the evening, and then I sleep on an uncomfortable mat chained closely to a naked slave. After a couple more days of the same routine, I can’t remember ever feeling so exhausted.

Gorack’s bedroom is almost as opulent as Salarin’s was, but when you’re trying to rest on a hard pad and the only softness is the body of the other chained female, it makes no difference if you’re surrounded by the comfort of kings. Orteza and I soon surrender all privacy, and we learn to sleep with limbs intertwined in whatever formation offers some relief. Often, I wake to find myself on my back, her shorter figure draped across me, head on my breasts. I need less sleep than she does, so when that happens, I must lie there looking around the room.

At Gorack’s bedside is a safe, activated by bio-recognition of Gorack’s iris and palm. Locked in there he keeps the keys to his empire – some mysterious documents, bank bonds for millions of credits, and the emergency self-destruct trigger for the atomics. Not that wealth or power is useful to an implanted slave in Salarin’s service. I’m more concerns with the locker at the other side of the bed – the one where the restraints and torture implements are stored.

One day, I shall kill him, I swear to myself as Orteza drowses across me. That thought is all that keeps me going. At least it does for those worst few days. Until, surprisingly, my situation begins to improve.

As I’ve said, Gorack is one of those men for whom the greatest pleasure is the conquest. So, after the low point of breaking me in as many ways as possible, his interest in me begins to decline. Officially declared the most beautiful women in his possession, my use reduces, to only being displayed as a symbol of his wealth during the audiences.

Gods, thank you. After my first arrival, there have been many continuous nights enduring whichever of his whims will arouse him, and then when he’s sufficiently hard he rapes me, usually in my ass. So I scarcely dare to believe it the first time he fancies a change, and Trindii, the former favorite, is summoned to the bedchamber instead.

For a sex slave, anticipating a night alone is like heaven, but the fates are not that kind. It turns out when I’m not serving Gorack, I’m opened up for wider use. Early on, he’d said I’d be shared around his senior staff, and sure enough it’s true. Even some of the important women working for Gorack are given their turn, although female handlers always prohibit me from pleasing my own tastes with them.

Orteza is regularly summoned from the guard room, to join in. The whole of the house knows of my specific needs and my choice of her, so a favorite pastime is to have me chained down and then summon the dark-skinned alien to arouse me. I’m defenseless against Orteza, and she succeeds every time. Once I’m aching with desire and thoroughly humiliated, then the audience, who have also been excited by the scene, satisfy their lusts on me. I quickly lose count of the number of my sexual partners I endure from my captor’s household.

Thus goes the hierarchy on Dodayosk: Gorack abuses whoever he likes. His retinue abuse only those whom Gorack permits, including me. Their victims, including Orteza, also abuse me. Guards and menial staff are given the lower quality females.

But nothing in all this matches the low points of first being captured on Aghara-Penthay, and first discovering that the master I’d been sent to was Gorack.

I am Ajeedie. Sex slave, yes, but survivor.

There are many sadists in the galaxy other than Salarin, so my sessions with Orteza are always performed in front of an audience. Therefore, seven days later I’ve still been unable to conduct a private conversation. Orteza and I are irrevocably linked together in the minds of the household, which is unfortunate. Perhaps if I could turn back time, I would have requested another slave, and found it easier to speak to my former teammate alone.

I often puzzle over our shared past. What is her secret? Orteza was, for reasons unknown, spared the fate of the others in the strike team, but she almost certainly saw the feed showing our dismembered sisters. Why wasn’t I punished, she must be asking. Why wasn’t she punished, I am asking. And what if she remained longer on Aghara-Penthay? The cum race was not broadcast across the galaxy, but Slaver channels showed it throughout the planet. I was the winner, and chosen by Salarin. The whole planet saw me. She would have seen me. That’s why Morg when running to his faction leader.

Perhaps it’s something as simple as a mistake. Thousands of women move through Aghara-Penthay each year, and it is possible a clerical oversight severed Orteza’s connection in the records to my team. She should fear me, then. I could deliver the inevitable Slaver justice. I ponder whether I hate her enough to take her along too when I complete my mission, and she can finish her life sharing the fate of the others – Norenda, Ko, Illyri, Ak-Mancheen, and so on. I wonder if those poor souls are still alive, after being reduced to nothing more than mute torsos – lumps of silent flesh to be so terribly and gradually devoured by the Elmek.

And then at last comes the afternoon when we’re in the bedroom of Koosh – yet another of Gorack’s senior aides. Koosh is morbidly obese – the size of his body being inverse to the size of his penis. So big is he it’s not easy to achieve penetration. His mind is as lethargic as his body, so after one of the shortest and easiest rapes I’ve ever suffered, he drifts into a doze, sprawled naked on his bed, and I’m left to relieve myself with Orteza devoid of a crowd.

I’m so used to our routine that once she’s done and excuses herself for the traditional comfort break, it takes a moment to realize I’m under no compulsion to remain in the bedchamber. But when I do, I give Orteza a moment to believe she’s safe, and with a wary glance at the slumbering Koosh, I rise and silently pad after my former teammate.

I steal into the bathroom and hear her vomiting her stomach full of breast milk into the bowl, and I don’t immediately process the significance of what’s happening. Then, my Okhoron-speed mental agility catches up. Simultaneously Orteza turns, sees me, and I slam her back into the wall, pinning her there by pressing my forearm into her throat.

“He gave you a clear order, that you were to love my milk, as much as you hated me,” I hiss, “but I’ve seen the look on your face every time you have to suckle. What is it with you, Orteza? Faulty implant? And why are you even alive?”

“Why are you alive, Ajeedie?” she replies with equal venom. “You know what Slavers say ‘no woman is too beautiful to be above the law’. How come our leader didn’t end up with our other poor comrades? You’re not that pretty.”

I use my bodyweight and press harder into her throat, cutting off the air supply.

“You’re a danger to me,” I say hostilely as she gags and strains to inhale. “You know too much. I should kill you now, unless you give me a reason not to. So what’s your secret?”

“Can’t trust you,” she mouths, not even a whisper.

“You’re gonna have to, unless you want to die in the next minute,” I tell her.

She resists right until the brink of unconsciousness, when I can see her eyes starting to roll back in her head. Then she speaks. At first, I think I’ve misheard.

“No implant,” she mouths.

I’m so surprised I release her. Orteza slumps down, resting back against the wall.

“What?” I say.

“No implant,” she repeats, louder now she can speak.

“That’s impossible. You have the mark.”

“Exactly,” says Orteza. “That’s how I’ve got away with it.”

“I don’t understand,” I state.

“That’s why it’s so effective.”

“Just talk.”

“You’ll remember I shut the door on you,” Orteza says, looking away, “and I watched through the porthole as those flying things surrounded you. Then I ran.”

“You’ll pay for betraying me to the swarm,” I say coldly. “We could have both got away.”

“You know that’s not true,” counters Orteza. “Slavers would soon have found out the leader was missing. I was less significant. Alone, I still had a chance.”

She probably has a point, but I’m not going to give her the satisfaction of agreeing.

“Only a little further into the Slaver building, I came across a chamber of horrors,” Orteza presses on. “They must have used it to process new captives. All the equipment was there. That’s when I had my idea. Where better to hide the needle, than in the haystack?”

“I stripped. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done – dumping my bodysuit down a garbage chute, knowing it was my only protection, my only chance of disguise as a male. But I did it. Then I held that device to my face, that gives the mark, and I activated it. It burned so much I nearly dropped it. But the process worked. The room had a mirror, and when I checked my reflection, I looked just like every other processed slave.”

“I put on one of those red slave wraps, and I left the chamber, putting as much distance between myself and the rest of you as possible. After that, I could scarcely believe how well my plan worked. Every time I ran into groups of Slaver men, I’d just say I was running an errand for my master. They saw the mark, and made all the right wrong assumptions. A couple of times I was molested, but no one raped me. The men seemed to have other things on their minds. It was chaos on the surface in the aftermath of the raid, with the two dead faction leaders, all thanks to us.”

“I couldn’t just stay on the surface forever though, so I worked my way towards the shuttle pads, hoping to find some way back onto the Hub, and then maybe to jump on one of the transports. I came across a huge group of captives – several hundred – medium and low-grade females being herded towards a shuttle, all packaged and ready to go to auction. When their guards weren’t looking, I slipped into the group.”

“I’d hoped it would be as easy to leave the slave shipment as it was to join them, but when I was on the Hub – the closest to escape I’d been – the guards kept us confined constantly, and my plan began to unravel. There are outsiders on the Hub, and slaves need to be more carefully supervised once they’re up there. Before I’d found a chance to slip away, I was confined as a prisoner in one of the auction houses, and the group of women was broken up into batches, ready for sale.”

“Finally, the presence of an extra female was noticed. That was probably my most dangerous moment since fleeing from our group. If they’d scanned me, they’d have discovered the missing chip. But the men put it down to a clerical screw-up, and they were in two much of a hurry to worry about one low-value female. I was forced into a neck collar, joined by chains to the necks of a dozen other women, and added to the inventory as ‘Ortiera’. From that time, my chance to escape was gone.”

“They paraded us, naked, on a catwalk in an auction room, crowded with men. Many males have no interest or ability to buy a slave, but they like to watch the auctions. Many more were probably watching from other worlds, using their screens. It was almost unbearable. We were not permitted to conceal ourselves. Many of us were handled, and we had our muscles or breasts squeezed as a demonstration of our ripeness for the audience.”

“After that, there is little more to tell, Ajeedie.”

“I was sold to the house of Yarook, here on Dodayosk. Ironically, I escaped from Aghara-Penthay without being raped, but I was not so lucky here. My intent was to leave the palace immediately, but if you’ve explored, you’ll soon discover the entrances are constantly guarded, the windows are too narrow, and the walls are too high to jump. And I have little opportunity to explore. For much of my time, I am chained.”

“No doubt it would please you that the one who betrayed you on Aghara-Penthay to save herself ended up as a lowly guardroom whore, and I’ve been fucked dozens of times every day since my arrival. But so it has been. At least it was until you arrived, and your choice offered me some respite.”

She studies me carefully as I think. What does this mean, that the Gods delivered me Orteza, and an Orteza with free will? Should I avenge myself? Should I make use of her? Should I return her to Aghara-Penthay?

“I desire you,” Orteza blurts out, “of course I do – I have done since I first saw you - you are beautiful. And you know what members of the Sect truly think about consuming dairy already. I struggle to hide my revulsion. But I do not wish to torment you. That is mere show, for Lord Yarook.”

“Gorack,” I correct. “I will always know him as Gorack.”

There is silence for a moment, as we both think.

“Your turn. Why do you live?” Orteza then asks suspiciously. “You’re a danger to me, as well.”

“Only because I resemble Ja-Alixxe – my cousin,” I explain. “That’s why they changed my hair.”

“I’d noticed.”

“Gorack wants Ja-Alixxe. He wants her so much, she’s more important to him than anything. They have an old grudge, and he dreams constantly of getting revenge. Salarin thought he could buy Gorack off by sending me, as an impersonator. The supply of implant chips is critical to the Slaver economy, as you know. More important, even, than delivering me to justice for what we did. It was just bad luck that Gorack and I had also met before. We’d have known, if he didn’t use that stupid title. But I was here by then.”

“How come you’re not telling him the truth, when he gives an order?”

“To convince Gorack I was Ja-Alixxe, I had to be able to lie. I have a very special custom implant…”

I rub the familiar spot at the back of my head where the chip went in.

“For now I obey only Salarin, but he’s told me to act as though my implant is normal.”

Orteza looks at me warily.

“And what of me?”

“Salarin has not given any specific orders about you. So long as that doesn’t change and you don’t threaten my mission, there’s no reason we can’t carry on as we are.”

Suddenly she takes on a pleading expression.

“You have to help me escape,” Orteza begs. “Just as far as outside the fortress. I’ll be fine from there on my own. I know don’t deserve it, but please… I can’t stand it. Rape after rape after rape. The guards -they disgust me. I can’t-”

“Quiet!” I bark. “Someone’s coming!”

Reacting faster than me for once, Orteza seizes me, and pulls me to her in a romantic embrace. It would have been a good tactic if Koosh was the one to discover us. It’s not uncommon for sex slaves to ease their suffering with secret liaisons, and Koosh might not mind. But the Gods are against us again. Gorack’s alien adjutant is the male who walks in. Osk is familiar to me know, the slimly built man with a blue-green iridescent skin, black eyes, and tubes of flesh from his skull instead of hair.

He’s made my skin crawl since the beginning, but Osk takes on a particularly cruel, ominous expression when he sees us.

“Well, Ja-Jeedie… and the pet…” he crows, rubbing his hands together with glee. “Which one of you had this idea? Creeping away for a private encounter… Oh, the master won’t like this. Not at all.”

With spirits sinking, Orteza and I share a glance.

“Well, which one of you? I asked you a question.”

We are supposed to be implanted – compelled to obey.

“It was me, Master,” blurts out Orteza. “I wanted her. I thought no-one would mind.”

“Oh dear!” gloats Osk. “The guardroom slut is getting ideas. She thinks she can pleasure herself with the master’s prize, when so many free men must wait their turn?”

“Forgive me, Master,” Orteza says humbly.

Did she just sacrifice herself to protect me? Or was that a self-serving gesture – answering before my implant might endanger us?

It doesn’t matter. Osk has caught us, and we’re in the crap. Why has he come to look for us now, of all times? The answer is not long in coming.

“If you’re not too busy, slave, you’re needed in the throne room for display,” Osk says, emphasizing the “slave”. “There’s a delegation coming from the Republic.”

His announcement that I’m about to go on show, yet again, is probably meant to hurt me. I must hide that I’m feeling the opposite. Oh, Gods be praised. At last – the Republic are back. My ordeal here is nearly over, whatever the decision. Gorack, have your fun with me, for you have only hours left to live.

“As for you,” Osk says to Orteza, “perhaps you would honor us with your presence, as well.”

32 - Stobbo

There is the sound of a swish, and a crack, followed swiftly by Orteza’s inevitable cry of pain. In a corner of Gorack’s throne room, she is standing in a punishment frame – a vertical square formed of wooden beams fitted with rings and fastenings, so a victim might be secured standing within. Orteza occupies the frame, nude, her limbs stretched out into an “X”, and tied into place. She remains upright, but only thanks to her bondage. Repeatedly she loses consciousness and hangs from her bound wrists, until she reawakens and the punishment resumes.

Osk did not delay with his tale telling. Gorack seemed pleased, if anything - pleased to have an excuse to practice his cruelty. It’s not as if Orteza and I even committed a great sin – we were not specifically forbidden from gathering alone. But there is an unspoken expectation that a slave’s sexual activities are under the control of the owner, and the more valuable the slave, the stricter the control. So we are both to be punished.

Swish, crack, and Orteza moans softly.

She is being beaten with a leather strap – wide and heavy, to deliver maximum pain without permanent damage. Orteza has been stood in the punishment frame less than an hour, and yet almost her entire flesh, save her head, glows from the thrashing. Covering her body are cuts and stripes where the lash was hard enough to break the skin.

Gorack’s retinue are taking turns delivering the whipping. They only pause when one of her tormentors wishes to rape Orteza. Already this has happened twice. It’s the first time I’ve seen her being fucked by a male.

But currently, a woman holds the lash. A thin, grey-haired female with an ugly face. She seems to resent Orteza’s ripe figure, for the woman concentrates on beating Orteza’s breasts, and the delicate place between her legs.

As for me, a vertical wooden post, eight-foot-high and as thick as a tree truck, has been positioned next to Gorack’s throne. I stand with my back against this, naked of course. My hands are passed behind the post, and then roped together. An additional length of rope is formed into a noose, which has been tightened around my neck, and then pulled upwards and tied off to a metal ring, located high above my head. Bound this way, I must remain on the tips of my toes, or be choked by the noose. My calves burn with exertion after only an hour, and in the tropical heat of Dodayosk, sweat is pouring down my body.

The stress position alone would be bad enough, but they put something inside me – a device like a metallic egg on a stem. Once it was safely inside my vagina, the egg felt like it was expanding to prevent its removal, then the whole device began to vibrate rapidly. Once upon a time the stimulation would have been a reward, but in the era when I’m unable to climax without contact from another woman, I must stand in this position, on the verge of suffocating, and in such a state of arousal that my legs can’t bear my weight.

“Legate Stobbo. And General Brook, of the Republic,” Osk says.

“Show them in,” Gorack says lazily.

There is a particularly ferocious swish, crack, right across Orteza’s nipples, and she slumps unconscious in the frame.

“You’ll have to wait until she revives now,” Gorack chides the grey-haired woman. “The knack with torture is not to let them have a break.”

“I’m feeling horny,” one of the younger guardsmen chips in. “I might as well fuck her in the ass while she’s out.”

The scene of Orteza’s anal rape, and me on the post, is the sight which greets the Republic delegation. The bearded, middle-aged Legate Stobbo is just as I remember from before, and the way he looks at me – desire pretending not to be desire – is also familiar. General Brook is a woman. She has dark piercing eyes and high cheekbones, and she was probably quite the beauty of the fleet twenty years ago, but now her expression has been hardened by tough decisions, and her body softened from years working behind a desk.

The general looks angrily at the debauched crowd. Only when she looks at Orteza and I, does her expression show any sign of pity. I lift my chin bravely and watch her. Please, please, let your presence signal the end to this.

“Welcome, honored visitors,” says Gorack.

“Lord Yarook,” responds Stobbo, inclining his head. “You will recall, that the Republic wished to incentivize you to cease production of implant chips. You said your terms were, that you would only do so in exchange for five million credits, and a Rape Runner – the Republican colonel, Melena de Santo. Is that still the deal that you’re offering?”

Gorack laughs mirthlessly.

“It is.”

My heart rate, already rapid from straining in these ropes, and from my arousal, accelerates further. Melena can’t seriously have agreed? But then why else would the delegation be here?

“Most of the galaxy knows where Colonel de Santo is in sanctuary,” says Stobbo. “General Brook here is the former military administrator of the Cancis Rock mining facility, and now of the new secret location, where the Republic offers refuge to implanted slaves.”

“So Melena has said yes?” gloats Gorack.

“I think we’re getting ahead of ourselves,” interrupts Brook coldly.

“But you wouldn’t have come from Cancis Rock if she wasn’t willing, General,” says Gorack, echoing my thoughts. “Unless you just wanted to see a great Lord for yourself? You’d be surprised the number of women who secretly harbor fantasies of sexual slavery to powerful men. Join my captives, General Brook. Strip off your clothes. I can give you an unforgettable night, and have you returned to Legate Stobbo without permanent harm in the morning.”

“I would never…” stammers the general, furious with shame.

“That’s enough, please,” says Stobbo.

“Then quit the small talk, both of you. When I want my dick sucked, there are others to do the job. Melena has agreed?”

There is a heavy pause in the room.

“Melena de Santo is a heroin of the Republic,” says Stobbo. “But yes – she has agreed. She says she will submit herself to you, in order to save all those poor women from a future of implantation.”

I’m being publicly humiliated by my display naked at this post, so I’m in no state to show relief, however much I want to. But I’m ecstatic. Gods, she’s coming. It’s all been worthwhile.

“Maybe she agreed because of her heroism,” Gorack is saying when I tune back into the conversation. “Or perhaps she is one of those where a part of her yearns to be debased by men. I watched her violation during the Run. I always believed she could not accept her own sexuality, and secretly preferred it to be forced from her.”

“You’re being ridiculous,” General Brook says hotly. “You don’t understand women at all.”

“Don’t argue with me in my own house, General,” warns Gorack, “Or I shall make you pay. I’ve had more women than you, and know their minds and bodies.”

“We have our own terms,” cuts in Stobbo, trying to restore order. “We will not bring Melena, or the credits, directly here. There is a gas refinery a short hop from here, in neutral space. For the exchange, we both agree to bring only one ship each, lightly armed, and a maximum of four men with armaments in escort to board the refinery. Any slave women will be veiled and robed, as befits a public place. We can’t risk attracting attention. I’m not bringing them all that way, to be snatched by low-lives or the Slavers at the last moment.”

“Your terms are acceptable. And when will the exchange take place?” says Gorack.

“One standard galactic day. Two hundred hours, by the galactic clock.”

Two hundred hours, I ponder… There’s so much I have to plan… Finally it’s here, and still I need time to decided what to do. I swallow, the noose making even that difficult.

“For the record, I disapprove of this deal completely,” the general cuts back in. “If word gets out that the Republic agreed to such a dirty deal… We do not surrender one person to protect another. And we should defend every one of our free citizens equally. There’s no way someone like Melena should be handed over to worthless scum.”

“Scum?” says Gorack, and I tense, for I know him well enough to sense his temper rising. “Scum? Very well, General Brook. I warned you, if you insulted me, I would make you pay. There is now a small additional element included in the deal. Just a small matter. But without it, you can call the whole thing off.”

“There is no re-opening the negotiation,” says Brook. “See, Legate? He’s just gonna push the price up and up. I knew this guy was just messing with us. Let’s get out of here, Legate Stobbo.”

A groan from Orteza interrupts everyone. She opens her eyes and looks around blearily, unsure where she is for a moment. Then it comes back to her – she’s in a punishment frame, being raped in the anus. She sees the crowd, and the visitors, and drops her head in shame. The ugly woman draws back the strap, and I hear Orteza weakly plead “No, no, no!”

“What do you want now?” says Stobbo wearily, eager to be gone from this room. “We might as well hear Lord Yarook out, as we’ve come all this way.”

Gorack pauses. Enjoying his control, I’m sure.

“See the beauty tied to the post there – her name is Ja-Jeedie,” says Gorack, and I stiffen on my toes as everyone looks at me. “Well, my new term is this - if you want the deal to go ahead, the general will have to lick out Ja-Jeedie’s pussy, while we all watch.”

Brook almost explodes. There are snickers of laughter from the rest of the crowd.

“How dare you?” she shouts. “This is outrageous. We’re leaving right now.”

“Seriously?” says Gorack, calmly. “Melena has proven herself willing to go as far as sacrificing herself back into sexual slavery. She knows it will give hope to millions of women of keeping their free will, safe from implantation. And you’ll throw that away because you won’t endure a few minutes with one of the galaxy’s most beautiful women, doing something many would find pleasurable?”

“You’re disgusting!” says the red-faced general, but I can see she’s faltering.

“I can see you looking at her and wondering about her – that is Ja-Alixxe’s cousin, you know,” says Gorack. “So her family have paid more than most to Aghara-Penthay. She deserves a moment of your mercy.”

The general looks at me, a mixture of revulsion for my state and pity in her expression, and then she stiffens with resolve.

“Fine,” she says, and strides across to me, then crouches down. “Watch me, and laugh it up, scumbags. This changes nothing.”

I feel Brook’s breath at my core, and then the touch of her mouth. Perhaps she’s never been intimate with another woman, or maybe even herself, for the first exploratory probes of her tongue are very tentative. She can’t get her tongue inside me – the base of the egg device prevents that – but she can lick around my nether lips, and reach my clitoris. The caress is all I need.

I try to look down, but it’s difficult with the choking rope, so between my full breasts I can barely see the top of her head.

“No, no, General Brook, don’t just tickle her, get right in there,” says Gorack.

She does, and I moan, because I’m really getting turned on. At the point of contact between us, divine heat spills out from my core that makes my flesh tingle. Oh, that’s good. I’m so wet – aroused by the unending vibration of the egg, and the presence of General Brook providing the trigger.

At first, I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to climax while stretched up on my toes, but this sure feels like it’s headed the right way. The general probes deeper and more confidently inside me as she focuses on her task. I rock my pelvis to guide her to the most sensitive spots.

“That’s better,” says Gorack. “See general? I know how to make women obey.”

She freezes for a moment, but then resumes. Perhaps she thinks that the deeper and more intensely she tongues me, the faster she gets this over with. She’s probably right.

I’m reaching that familiar place where my whole body seems alive with sensation, and I’m getting dizzy. The restriction of my breathing seems to heighten the electricity from my groin.

From across the room Orteza moans again, the noise sounding oddly sensual this time, and it’s that which pushes me over the edge. I cry out loudly, oblivious to my audience as the climax floods through me, and out.

“I should have warned you,” says Gorack. “Ja-Jeedie is one of those who goes when she cums.”

The general is already back on her feet, wiping my embarrassing fluids from her face. She looks furious. Everyone but Stobbo and myself seem to be laughing at her. As for me, my orgasm has triggered such intense trembling in my thighs that it makes holding position even worse, and I need to concentrate all my efforts on standing up.

“I’m leaving,” says General Brook, and she makes for the exit from the audience room.

“Learn your lesson, general,” calls Gorack, “while you breathe in her smell. In the end you’re just a cunt, and cunts can always be tamed.”

“Be at the rendezvous,” Legate Stobbo says through gritted teeth. “Good day, Lord Yarook.”

The crowd can release their excitement the moment the Republic delegation have gone. I hear Melena’s name whispered over and over, spreading from person to person. I swallow awkwardly, pushing the post with my palms in a feeble attempt to gain some leverage and rest my legs.

“Excellent,” crows Gorack. “Excellent. We must prepare to welcome Colonel de Santo to our little family. And we must consider how to spend those five million credits. Perhaps we buy ourselves an island.”

There is a cheer.

The atmosphere is festive for the Dodayosk community, during those days until the rendezvous, and I benefit from the goodwill. All that interests Gorack is anticipation of Melena, his new plaything, and I am old news. He watches footage of her Rape Run season over and over. After her first gang-rape, in a frame much like Orteza’s, Melena de Santo is lowered onto a gigantic phallus and stimulated to the point of orgasm. On that colossal cock, she’s kept for so long that she does almost look grateful when Cronorgan fucks her, and she can finally climax. The scene is terrible, and yet I can see why Gorack wants her so much. She has the combination of beauty and spirit that I haven’t encountered since my cousin. That is the secret of the highest value slaves. Physical attractiveness goes a long way, but a man needs the victory of conquest as well. That conquest is too easy, and unsatisfactory, without spirit.

While the humid days and night go by, I continue to be passed round the retinue, rather than serving the master of the house. Over this time my own biological needs build up, as they always do, and I ask for Orteza. But now I am denied. Once more she only serves the guards, they tell me. I am permitted none but Edzie, she whom travelled with me to Dodayosk, to sate my cravings. Edzie has fared worse than Orteza as a guardroom sex slave. I find her with her face carrying yet more bruises, and with a permanently tremor in her hands.

But I use her, as I must, and I do nothing to arouse suspicion until the day of the exchange. Then, I seek out Gorack at a time when he is alone is his private rooms. It has to be in the chamber where I’ve suffered so much. That’s the only place my plan can begin.

“Ja-Jeedie?” he says, as I knock, and steal inside.

“Master Osk suggested I suck Master’s cock,” I lie humbly, “After its draining, Master’s stamina should be at its highest, ready for introducing the new slave.”

“Good suggestion,” Gorack says, already fumbling with his pants as I close the door. “Kneel.”

I obey, docile and humble.

“You’re a pretty slave,” he muses, producing his semi-erect organ. “But your cousin has something more. Wait ‘til I have her and Melena, both here together. Now that will be something to enjoy.”

“And yet you never violated her, Master. Not like with me.”

“Bugs you, does it huh?” chuckles Gorack. “Open.”

I part my lips, and, without ceremony, he pushes himself back into my throat.

It does bug me. Ja-Alixxe said she’d performed ‘services’ for Gorack, but all that time they were on a ship together, he still left her a virgin. What did I do so wrong to get raped within days of meeting the guy? I squeeze with my lips and rub my tongue against the underside of him. With my face in his crotch, he can’t see my malevolent expression.

“She struck a deal, if you wanna know,” Gorack says, as I bury my face into his crotch. “She agreed that so long as I left her with her holes and her hymen, I could sate my lust on the outside any way I liked. I don’t know why her virginity meant so much to her – she would put up with far worse debasements than a little penetration, and she never once complained. But there you go. Anywhere except a hole – that was her rule. Maybe it was the last sign of the girl destined for the Djenerion.”

Ja-Alixxe carried a torch for the future she’d rejected? I find that hard to believe.

“While she was learning to fly the ship, I’d only let her practice if she did it naked. Half the universe has seen footage of her undressed nowadays, but her and I - we’ll both know, I was her first. Thing is with Ja-Alixxe, though – she always takes ownership. Soon, except when we were docked somewhere, she’d just walk round nude all the time. Just to show me she wasn’t being beaten, I think.”

“Then, I started groping her, whenever I felt horny. She’d let me climax by rubbing my cock against her, anywhere I liked. Even right between her buttocks. Didn’t move an inch. She’d just lie there, limp, no better than a corpse. Sometimes I’d jack off over her tits or onto her face, and I’d make her sit there all day, covered in my cum, to try and get a reaction. Ah, it was the heavens. I had more orgasms those first few days than any time before or after. But she took it all, and she persevered. Just so long as it wasn’t in any of her holes. Not even in her mouth. Not like this-”

And he grasps the back of my skull, and pulls me deep down onto him. I choke as he touches the back of my throat, and he laughs.

“Who’d have guessed, out of the two of you, you’d be the one I’d end up fucking over and over? Anyway, our first target together was this lowlife called Drax Osillo. That guy messed in every crime he could, in a system over near the Paleon Disc. No bounty hunters could get close to Drax. He holed up in this strip club he owned, surrounded by his heavy security – every one hand picked. Full nude inside, and I could walk right in and sit at the bar near him, but strictly no blasters. Well, Ja-Alixxe had no issues at all with going in asking for work – they didn’t check the women so carefully. And once they knew her face, she went in hiding a syringe in her clothing, the guards never checked, and bam! (Oh, that’s good, Ja-Jeedie. Yes, just there…).”

He rams his cock tonsil-deep again, and I gag. I tense my arms and he says, “Uh-uh! Sit on your hands.”

I hadn’t planned on enduring this long, but this is my last chance to hear Gorack’s side of things. I kneel on my hands, to prevent the natural defensive reflex that happens when a woman is made to swallow too much cock.

“Ja-Alixxe took her time before smuggling the syringe into the club. I think she liked it there – liked the male attention. You shrank from your beauty when I met you, but she weaponized hers – she liked the power it gave her.”

He holds himself still for a moment, his penis deep in my throat.

“After a while, the nakedness and the mauling wasn’t enough. I asked her over and over to wear slave chains for me, but she never agreed. She knew that the second she was restrained and I held the keys, that was it for her. So I tried to drug her a couple of times. I wanted to see her face when she woke up in one of the cages we used for bounty. Yeah, I bet she’d have lost that attitude soon enough once I’d threatened her with a trip to Aghara-Penthay. I’d have gladly paid for an implant. But she seemed to have a sixth sense – always dodged my spiked rations.”

“It got too much one day. I overrode her door locks, and went to her cabin at night, to try and bind her in her sleep. She was waiting for me. You can see what happened then. I can’t wait until she’s kneeling there in your place, and my payback can start. I’m gonna rip that girl a new asshole for what she’s done to me.”

I’ve heard enough. Adrenaline spikes. My heart starts pounding so hard, it must nearly be audible. I feel drunk with hope. At last, the moment here. It took a while to form my plan. It took some research – the Disdyne Paradox - probing my limits and restrictions and suffering much – but finally the moment is here. I’m ready to act.

I feign my most humble and broken Ajeedie right up to the end, as Gorack’s cock pulses ready to empty his load into my throat for the final time. It’s only then that I commit, taking him as deep as I can, then biting down on the detested rod of flesh with every bit of the strength in my jaws.



33 – Trade

For those to whom the names of places are important, this one is called Corston-Rig. It is a vast methane processing plant floating in the gas cloud of a never-formed star. A crew of thirty run the place – twenty-five males and five females. One of the women is pretty, and no doubt the subject of her male colleagues’ fantasies. She would make a pleasing sex slave, so it is perhaps lucky we are so far from Slaver territory.

The rig is only lightly protected – methane is too awkward to steal without specialist equipment, and the women are the only other thing on this floating platform worth plundering. Thus, the locals do not oppose the docking of the Republic ship, nor the vessel arriving from Dodayosk. The rig’s crew cautiously appear to check out the visitors, armed, and with their women hidden at the back, as the parties reach the main deck. They are reassured that no harm is intended, and the rig is only being utilized as a convenient place of exchange. With that, they quickly withdraw, in case trouble does break out.

Both sides follow the rules.

The Republic group consists of four guards in fleet uniforms, shouldering blasters, and Stobbo and General Brook – both of them unarmed, to avoid accusations of being additional combatants. The escorts circle a heavily robed and veiled woman, giving her far more protection than they do to the hover trolley, even though it’s stacked with crates that must contain a fortune.

The woman is dressed so modestly that even the most conservative in the galaxy wouldn’t object, but there’s enough outline that she can’t conceal she’s a woman, and one who is tall, with slender shoulders. Even clad this demurely, there’s a strange magnetism about her. So much that the masked figure leading the Dodayosk group seems almost hypnotized by the new arrival. The sound of the respirator is heavy, audible despite the constant industrial racket of the rig.

As for so-called “Lord Yarook’s” delegation, there are only three armed escorts, but the leader carries a heavy blaster personally. Osk, Gorack’s alien adjutant, is also present, but unarmed. This time, the guards from Dodayosk aren’t the lazy wasters that escort slaves on errands to the market. Osk has chosen the crack troops, and they look around with constant vigilance. The group from Dodayosk have also brought a heavily concealed woman. Her robes hid much, only showing enough to discern that she is much shorter than the Republic female. In her hands she clutches a mysterious black silken sack.

“Lord Yarook,” says Legate Stobbo, hiding his frown of disapproval. Maybe he’s wondering why the other party needed to bring a slave. Could these pirates not last a few hours without raping someone?

“Legate Stobbo. General Brook,” responds the electronic, distorted voice familiar as Gorack’s. “Do you still wish to proceed?”

“Yes,” says Stobbo. “You also?”

“First, let me see the goods. I want to know for sure that’s Melena. You: show yourself.”

The woman between the Republic guards has been given an order, so immediately she lifts her veil, thereby triggering a collective intake of breath. Melena de Santo’s beauty is quite breathtaking. It’s easy to see why so many of the galaxy’s men obsess over her. Her hair is perfectly straight, and an unusual dark red color – the same shade as a fine wine. Her skin is pale – a high cheekbone marked by the dark swirls of an Aghara-Penthay slave brand. Her steel eyes are feminine and expressive, and although there is resolve there, they fail to conceal her fear for what’s ahead.

Once she’s unveiled, Melena’s Republic escorts salute her, salute her as someone worthy of great respect, rather than a woman whose career defining moment was a gang rape broadcast so the whole galaxy could masturbate.

“Well?” says Stobbo. “We present Colonel de Santo. Is the deal still on? Will production stop?”

Instead of answering, in my disguise of Gorack’s uniform, I move, already into a combat roll, blaster raised and firing killer shots at the first two of the Dodayosk guards.

Drugs are freely available on Dodayosk, and I took a powerful stim before I smuggled myself, dressed as Yarook, onto the ship. Coupled with my Okhoron reflexes, the effect of the stim is as though everyone moves ridiculously slowly. I can anticipate everything. The Republic men are bringing their weapons to bear, but I’m sure they won’t fire on me before it’s finished. For most men, it is instinct not to harm, and furthermore these fellows don’t know yet if I’m friend or foe. Melena also stands frozen.

I dispose of Gorack’s last protector with a blast direct through his torso, powerful enough to fling his ragdoll corpse back against the wall. And then I give Osk long enough to understand something is very wrong, and shoot him full in the face. I am pleased. He made me eat that penis, and just I didn’t like him.

The firefight is over, after only seconds. The Republic troops have their weapon raised, pointed right at me. Slowly, I lower my blaster to the floor.

“What is going on here?” asks Stobbo. Credit to him, he is still calm.

I unclip the helmet, and reveal my face. How ironic that my time in slavery should start and end with disguise as a man. Next to me, our woman in the veil, Orteza, is also revealing herself.

“You?” says Stobbo, as I shake my long, dark hair free. “What is this?”

I answer to Melena, rather than him.

“Relax, Colonel,” I tell her. “You are not returning to captivity today.”

Her legs give way, and I think she would have fainted if General Brook hadn’t clutched her in time.

“Where is Lord Yarook?” Stobbo asks me cautiously.

“Dead,” I reply dismissively. “I tore off his cock, and then broke every bone I could, before stealing his breathing apparatus and tossing him down a garbage chute.”

“Well, I’m delighted you denied that scumbag Yarook from another moment of life,” cuts in the general wryly, “but by doing so, you might have ruined our chance at stopping the production of implants for a while.”

“On the contrary, General. Stopping production is precisely why I killed him,” I answer, and reach for Orteza’s black sack. The troops raise their weapons suspiciously, and I add, “If I may?”

After a pause, Stobbo says, “Let her…” and I reach inside.

Gorack’s severed hand, dripping blood, is still closed over a trigger device.

“This trigger is linked to atomics on Dodayosk’s surface, a self-destruct mechanism protecting the factory,” I tell him. “Only Gor… Yarook’s touch can activate it. Hence, my need to bring this grisly prop. Agree to my terms, and I’ll fire the device. I’ll destroy the manufacturing plant completely. It will take years, maybe decades, for Aghara-Penthay to find a new source of implant chips.”

“How many innocent people are down there on the surface?” asks Stobbo.

“Innocent is a subjective term… They all know what their product is used for. But if it puts you at ease, most of the plant is run by droids. There’s only a skeleton staff of bioforms. But there is a risk Gorack’s city is in the range of the blast.”

“Hmm…” says Stobbo sternly. “And what do you want in exchange for such a blessing? Why are you doing this? For sanctuary? I hope you don’t want us to give Melena to you. She’s been through enough today.”

“Sanctuary, but more importantly, fame,” I say.

Melena suddenly comes to life.

“Why, in the name of the Gods, would you want to be famous?” she has recovered enough to ask.

I smile.

“That, my dear, needs a little explanation”.

34 – Disdyne

“So now you know how I came to be on Aghara-Penthay, and how I came to be slave to the man you call Yarook,” I conclude. “I was dispatched by Salarin, but secretly implanted to serve only a Slaver called Charax.”

“You never told me any of this…” grumbles Orteza.

“Would you have trusted me?”

She shrugs. “I suppose not.”

“Your implant is functional, “says Stobbo. “I still don’t quite see how causing such damage to the Slavers of Aghara-Penthay is your best way to fulfil your coding, and serve this ‘Charax’.”

“Disdyne,” I reply. “It all comes down to Disdyne.”

Their expressions tell me that no-one has heard of him.

“Logical paradoxes can happen with slave implants, and cause the psychological equivalent of a computer crash, within the slave’s brain,” I begin. “A scientist in the team of Perla Etochka, Amal Disdyne, researched some of them, but one in particular bears his name.”

“You’ll remember the implant was developed to control criminals, particularly sexual predators, by configuring the brain to make it impossible for males to harm women. But it didn’t take long for a few entrepreneurial men across the galaxy to reconfigure stolen implants for use pacifying illegally captured females. The problem was, that even though the implants were meant to prevent women taking their own lives, the suicide rate in slaves went up, instead of down.”

“Back in the Republic, the authorized users of implants also saw a rise in suicides. In spite of the presence of a prohibition in the code, many male prisoners were ending themselves. Amal Disdyne was tasked with investigating, and found a logic paradox as follows: A captive female is implanted. The instruction says she must protect and serve her owner. But if she’s been taken by a lone male, she remains aware her implant is illegal. Therefore, her very existence presents a threat to her owner. If it is discovered she has a chip, the owner is further endangered. Her life harms him, but wait - she is not permitted to harm him. If the slave ends herself, she thinks this might be the best way of serving her master. But she is forbidden from ending her life. You see what I mean? The control becomes weaker because the slave is forced to reason for herself, over which command prerogative takes priority over the others, and whatever her conclusion, she will inevitably violate one of her primary compulsions. Some slaves become inert, locked into indecision. Others went crazy.”

“With the male prisoners, there was the same issue. Throughout history, there have been women who have an unhealthy interest in seeking friendship with sex predators and serial killers. In any form, this is unhealthy for the women – even with an outcome as minor as a woman being disappointed by finding an implanted male lacks his former instincts. So, the men also reasoned that the only certain way of ending risk was ending their lives.”

“Disdyne’s solution was to impose a hierarchy on the logic. With all implants, the weakest instruction is the order to preserve their own life. This permits the rare occasions where an owner might want to dispose of a slave or send them into situations with a risk of fatality. Usually, the instruction to protect the owner, or to render a slave unable to harm others, is only in the middle of the hierarchy. This permits the slave to function where inflicting limited harm is required. In the case of Aghara-Penthay, the brothels on The Hub cater for all male tastes, and that includes the places where men go who like to be thrashed and dominated by females.”

“Owners usually prefer the highest element in the hierarchy to be the compulsion that slave must follow orders, even if following orders creates some risk. So Disdyne’s convict males were ordered to follow orders, then they were commanded not to end themselves, with the warders reasoning that the risks to those pathetic women’s lives could be made manageable.”

“Only in a few rare exceptions is there a different hierarchy, and mine is one of them. I was going to be sent by Charax, to somewhere where the unexpected might occur. I needed to be able to use my own judgement to protect Charax’s wellbeing. Therefore, my primary urge is not to follow orders, but to act in his best interest.”

“But I still don’t see how..?” says Stobbo.

“It quickly became clear that while Salarin held me on Aghara-Penthay, I was only a liability to Charax. My remaining alive incriminated him. I would have ended myself, if events hadn’t proceeded so quickly. But before I could act, I was sent to Dodayosk, and the situation reversed itself.”

“Salarin made a point of telling the council of faction leaders that I was his slave, implanted to serve him. He even overrode their objections to the choice of sending me to Gorack. The other leaders said they could no longer support him if I went rogue. And that’s all.”

“I don’t understand,” says Melena, speaking for the first time for a while. Her voice is rich and sensuous.

“Charax is a prisoner in Salarin’s dungeon, if he still lives. The only chance remaining for an implanted sex slave, me, somewhere across the galaxy, to serve Charax’s best interests is to disgrace Salarin. If Salarin falls, his prisoners might be pardoned. Elevated, even?”

“So that’s my terms. I destroy the factory. You take me under the Republic’s protection. And tell the whole galaxy this partial truth: Salarin sent his personal sex slave, against the objections of the other leaders, and she went crazy. He made an unforgivable error of judgement.”

“It won’t be hard to make you famous,” says Stobbo. “Every female in the galaxy is going to be grateful to you.”

“We have a deal, then?”

“Well,” cuts in Stobbo, “Assuming casualties on the surface are kept to a minimum, of course I’m authorized to accept your offer on behalf of the Republic. Fire the atomics.”

Without further delay I squeeze the trigger, holding my hand over Gorack’s dismembered one. His flesh feels cold, now, but the sensors seem to function all the same. A green light flashes on the trigger.

“Is that it?” queries Stobbo.

“You’re expecting to hear a boom, out here?” smiles General Brook.

I’m not entirely without heart, and take a moment to wonder how many souls were working down there in the plant. This will make me a mass murderer, but if the people of Dodayosk take their coin from the dark, they have to be willing to accept the consequences. It’s only the few innocents – civilians, and the sex slaves still down there like Edzie and Trindii, that I would pity.

From one of the gangways leaving the rig deck, I see some of the crew cautiously peeking. One of them mouths ‘Melena’ to his neighbor, I am sure. And I’m not the only one who sees it.

“Time to leave,” says General Brook. “It won’t be long before someone signals Aghara-Penthay. Ladies, we need to get you safely home.”

35 – Epilogue

Those who travel frequently across space will recognize the moment where someone wakes up, and they experience a strange moment where they can’t even remember where they are. It takes a few seconds to backtrack in the memory. Sometimes the period of ignorance is bad for the voyager, sometimes not-knowing is good. For me, forgetting has usually proven good. Here, for example, there’s the luxury of an instant to consider how this place is richly decorated – dark wood paneling and ornate plasterwork to suggest some stateroom, or perhaps even a religious ceremonial space.

But soon, comes doubt. The proportions in here are wrong. I’m lying supine on the floor, ceiling above me, and yet, the roof is closer than it should be. The chamber is much wider than it is high, but still, if I stretched my arms out, I could probably touch the walls on either side of me. It’s as though someone took a dolls house, and stretched it in two axes, but left the third unchanged.

I do reach out, and then the uncertainty is fully shattered, for I touch nothing. Not because there is no wall, but because I have no limbs. My brain still remembers how to give the command, but there are no longer any muscles to respond.

I look to my side. There it is: my bare shoulder, but not even a stump. The arm has been severed right up to the shoulder joint. Severed, and healed in the bacta, some time during which I must have been unconscious. As the panic builds, I look to my other side. The same. I send the command to kick my heels, but here too, I feel no response. I don’t need to look down my body to know both my legs are gone, gone, right up to my hips.

Holy crap, what am I gonna do? I flail my head in terror, opening my mouth to scream, but no sound emerges. The room is silent, but inside my skull it is all noise, as I cry Gods No! Gods No! – the internal howl getting louder and louder. Please Gods no! Not the Elmek.

My situation shouldn’t be able to get any worse, but it does. They must have been waiting for me to awaken. I feel something touching my stomach. Tiny feet, walking on my abdomen. The men are only inches tall. With limbs intact, I’d be able to dislodge these ridiculous creatures easily, but dismembered, even though I’m threshing my head ferociously, my torso is barely moving.

Two tiny males, each walking up my stomach towards one of my breasts. They’re like humans in perfect miniature, right down to the tiny obscene erections bulging in their pants. I’m trying to call out – no, don’t, stop, help, mercy, to express anger, even, but I emit not the least trace of noise. Gods help me! What am I to do?

At the apex where my legs used to be, I feel a tiny hand now, pulling at my most intimate opening. Pulling me, parting my nether lips, as though to peek inside a curtain. How dare they? This cannot be permitted! Oh Gods, help me!

As panic rises, I even try to move by self-harm - banging my head against the floor, but they must have me lying on some soft substance that absorbs the impact from my skull. Gods help me, they’re going to eat me. I have to do something before this goes ahead.

The two men on my chest look hungrily down at my nipples, which to them are bigger than dinner plates. Unlike my mutilated limbs, my breasts have been left perfect. Not for much longer, though, unless I can prevent this abomination. Already they are lifting their machetes. One solitary tear escapes my left eye as the weapons make the first strike, and my nipples turn to pain. At the same time, my clitoris explodes, as though someone’s pierced it with a white-hot needle.

And the pain is real.

My muscles locked rigid with agony, I wake up, falling from my bunk and landing hard on the floor. The nightmare is already leaving me, but the pain stimulators in my silver nipples and clitoris have been activated, and that torture is very real. Orteza, awoken in the other bed by my shrieking, knows what to do. This isn’t the first time.

She slams the button on the wall that activates the EMP, and whatever nano-drone has been transmitting to the stimulators is fried. The pain stops instantly, and it’s as though the torture never happened.

I lie gasping on my back, drenched in sweat.

“Thank you,” I whisper.

The Slavers of Aghara-Penthay might not be able to get assassins through to me, here under Republic protection, but their nanoscale drones are so small that they can sometimes evade the defenses. Every so often the Slavers like to send one, configured to activate the pain triggers, which will remain forever embedded in my erogenous zones. Each drone represents the Slaver’s little reminder - I will never be forgiven.

Early in my time here, I’d suggested burning the stimulators out and repairing my body in the bacta, but the medics advised against. They told me that once a slave is a slave beyond a certain time, their augmentation becomes too hardwired into the psyche.

It was easy for them to say, but the attacks kept coming, and something had to be done. So an EMP system was installed in my sanctuary to bring down the nano drones, but EMP has the drawback that with my body locked in pain, I’m not usually in a state capable of pressing the button. Orteza volunteered to stay with me – I think she feels it’s fair reparation for the slamming of the door which launched me onto this path.

The attacks will keep coming. I’m sure I will neither be forgiven nor forgotten by Aghara-Penthay. Even Melena de Santo’s very public escape in the Rape Run pales to insignificance compared to my crimes against the Slavers.

The whole galaxy heard the news that Salarin’s personal slave went crazy and blew up the factory that made implant chips. Groundwork might have already started on a new production plant – this time on the surface of the Slaver planet, but it’s going to be several years before that’s operational. In the meantime, there are only sufficient stocks left to implant the highest value slaves, and the Rape Runners.

The impact on the universe from that explosion was more psychological than physical. If one woman can do so much damage to Aghara-Penthay, how much the combined efforts of the rest of the universe? For several years, the female population of the galaxy will be able to breathe a sigh of relief. Of all things, it’s the implant that has really struck terror into women. With her free will restored, a captive at least has the option to end herself, it it’s all too unbearable. She might even be able to resist.

With myself being safe in the Republic, and far from Slaver justice, there had to be a scapegoat. And everyone knew who it had to be. It was the faction leader Salarin who’d committed a catastrophic error of judgement in sending me to Dodayosk. The worst punishment for a male who breaks Slaver law is to have his wrists cuffed behind him, be stripped, and banished naked into Aghara-Penthay’s desert. At leisure under the hot skies, the criminal may decide to die slowly from the heat and thirst, or move around at night and receive a fast but painful death, by one of the predatory animals.

I was forbidden from watching the live Slaver broadcast of Salarin’s punishment until it had been checked, in case there was a subliminal command for me to return. I was shown the footage later, in the belief it might help give me some closure. I’d never seen Salarin naked in our brief time together. Stripped of his robes, he looked frail, old, rather pathetic. His penis was much smaller than I remembered.

Loyal to the end, five of his men – the White Rapers – chose to share his fate and go with him. Six males, cuffed and nude. The faction leader looking even smaller, once he was surrounded by his giant bodyguards.

And so, the faction leader known as The Sadist is gone, lost to the desert. His fate is a second reason I’m worshipped by the galaxy’s women. A new leader has arisen – a man who, according to the Slaver broadcast, tried to warn of the dangers I presented, and was imprisoned in Salarin’s dungeon for his efforts. Eager for someone to fill the power vacuum, men flocked to this new leader. Charax is his name. Another Slaver, another rapist, but Charax is not the bogeyman Salarin. Females everywhere rejoiced.

There’s hardly anyone left who knows the truth – that Charax implanted me to serve only him, and risking everything, he sent me with orders to win the Cum Race and eliminate Salarin. And I did eliminate Salarin, although by a much more circuitous route to the one he’d originally imagined. I wasn’t crazy. My implant was fully functional. My implant still is fully functional, but the only way I can serve Charax now is to stay far from Aghara-Penthay, while concealing all trace of the connection between us. Only Stobbo, Orteza and Brook knew the truth, and Brook recently died in an unfortunate accident, breaking her neck falling down a steep flight of stairs, just yards from my room.

One day, I might be forced to serve my master more directly. The logical structure in my implant will always be dangerous. Thus, unlike most women here, the Republic remain watchful and keep me as a virtual prisoner, albeit one who lives in luxury.

Haisa’s Paradise is a wonderful world – warm, temperate climate, almost all water, save for scattered tropical islands surrounded by sandy beaches. Deep into Republic space, it’s far beyond the reach of Slaver vessels. A billionaire left one of the larger islands as her bequest to the Republic, to establish a better sanctuary for rescued slaves.

I never went to the old colony on Cancis Rock, but I gather from those who did that this place is a vast improvement. We could believe ourselves on an endless vacation, unless we look into the sky and happen to see one of the battlecruisers that works on permanent protection duty, or we see one of the offshore gun batteries. Or it’s a day when one of the drones gets through the defensive perimeter.

I do not regret my actions towards Aghara-Penthay. But I do feel that being made permanently aware of my vulnerability is a fitting punishment for the innocents I vaporized on Dodayosk. During my waking hours I manage to occupy myself, but at night the fears and memories, and the faces of the dead infect my subconscious. I know what awaits should the Slavers ever recapture me. The Elmek Fetish would be one of my better fates.

If I wished it, I could take protection somewhere else, and evade the drones there for a while. I’ve been offered sanctuary by supporters of female liberty all over the galaxy. I was offered sanctuary on the Djenerix homeworld. The Djenerion even promised to fulfil their offer of Tronog – the refusion with the Gods. But what use are the Gods to me now? They ruined my hopes before I even made it to The Sect, and when I was down, they ground me deeper into the dirt. They needed something twisted and dark to complete their purpose, and twisted and dark I became. Just look at me - it will only be a matter of hours before I need to seek out one of the other women here, compelled to find female gratification. Hardly the character of someone holy. The Nine’s prophesy came true. I chose the path without mercy, causing the deaths of many, and became a goddess to the weak, to the diminished.

No, no one will ever think of me of a priestess. History will remember me by the title awarded to me in gratitude, by the galaxy’s women.

I am Ajeedie, the Queen of the Sex Slaves
1 comments

bisaraReport

2021-09-19 13:00:04
I love this story, it is so wrong on so many levels in the way it portrays women being sexualised but also so arousing for those of us that choose the submissive role in a relationship, please tell me there is more to come..

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